Jesse’s cat Maya died today. She was 15ish. Our friend Aud had a cat named Penny, who also died today, so we dug them a grave. It turns out this is a lot of work. Our back yard has fairly dense dirt, full of rocks and tree roots, and it is really hard to get dirt out of a deep hole with a shovel. (We now own a shop vac.)
The whole thing is… Well, it’s a bit insane in spots. Consider that I got them some catnip mice. I was originally going to get them one so it could be an ice breaker, but they came in three-packs, so we buried three catnip mice for them. One each, and one extra because you know they’ll lose one.
Thing is, obviously whatever about the cat was like-people to us, it was long gone. (The sort of synaesthetic perception I get of a ball of sparks that hovers near a cat and appears to follow its intent dispersed as soon as Maya fell asleep, long before her heart stopped beating.) But there is something sort of cool about funerals. They are, obviously, for the living, not for the dead. Luka helped in his own inimitable way, quoting bits of Pet Sematary throughout the digging.
It is probably insane, though, the way we think about bodies as having dignity. On the other hand, I think it is closely tied to the insanity that makes humans be what they are. There is a lot of what we do that seems insane if you think about it too closely. But some of that insanity, that belief that there is something more to the world than just what’s obviously in front of us, is also why we can have nice things. It is because we can conceive of niceness.
Jon Stewart was once quoted as observing that the reason he isn’t worried about society is that when nineteen people arranged to destroy a couple of buildings, killing thousands, hundreds of people rushed into those buildings to try to save people. He’ll take those odds any day. On the whole, I am pretty content to live among a species which thinks that it is obviously reasonable to put extreme care and effort into making sure that a cat’s final moments involve being held and purring, and then buries a catnip mouse with the cat just in case.
Perhaps archeologists will find our little cat grave and conclude that we worshipped cats. I am not sure they would be wrong.