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You say ‘domestic’ I say ‘opportunist’


So the story goes that cats self-domesticated at about the same time as we began to practice agriculture. Agriculture makes granaries, granaries make mice, mice make cats. Plausible enough, but for a language quibble: I don’t think cats self-domesticated; I don’t think they changed one stripe from the Wild Kingdom version. Self-selected, more like. The ones that, on the whole, rather liked the company of man came out of the wilderness and settled in his granaries.

charlotte in pencils

The fact is, some animals naturally rub along pretty well with people (and some don’t). They say you can’t tame a Felis silvestris grampia, no matter how hard you try. But catch a Felis silvestris lybica as a kitten and he’s anybody’s. They look exactly alike, but they’re different under the hood.

I’ve been thinking a lot about aminals lately. Sorry to drag you along on my middle-age what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up journey to the center of my navel, but I’ve been trying to figure out if “animal artist” is interesting enough to last a lifetime. In the course of which, it occured to me that my favorite animals are the ones that rub along pretty well with humanity. Pets and livestock, of course, but I have a real soft spot for the vermin and the opportunists of nature, too.

Partly because they’re the only animals I get to see and interact with, I guess. But opportunistic animals also have a cheerful, bluff, “hey lady, you going to eat that french fry?” kind of attitude. They can take care of themselves just fine, thanks. None of this weak, whiny, candy-ass “woo, don’t even look at me, I’m endangered” stuff.

I don’t know. You think there’s much call for S. Weasel, famous painter of rats?

July 30, 2008 — 2:42 pm
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