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On Bias and Project Treadstone

Have you had enough of Project Treadstone yet?

I thought I had pretty much seen it all and learned what I needed to learn. I'm not sure why I thought that, but I did.

Au contraire.

When I released Tabby Girl and Fluffy last week I saw a Siamese-ish-looking kitten with gooey eyes and a mussed up coat (not the usual for this cat). She looked sickly and her breathing was labored. The women in the building call this cat Powder Puff and we all assumed she was a she, as she's pretty and fluffy (ridiculous, but true).

Powder Puff was in the newly-fenced in part of the site so it would be difficult to trap her as we cannot get into that part of the site to set a trap. If we did catch her, though, one of the women wanted to take her home and socialize her and keep her. Why Powder Puff? Because she's so pretty.

That bothered me.

When I arrived at the site on Wednesday the women said Powder Puff looked fine and if she were sick she must be better. That was important as I was dreading trapping her because if she had symptoms of, well, anything, she'd be tested, and if she were positive she'd be killed.

Trapper Man snagged a glorious white/gray tabby, Powder Puff, and Otto, the coolest black cat ever (we were allowed three this week!).

It turns out Otto was a girl . . .


Powder Puff was a boy . . .

Powder Puff

And Dieci, whom you would think is a girl as she's pretty and fluffy, is in fact a girl.


Otto had a baby inside her and I was told that once under anesthesia, any babies die (which answers last week's question regarding Tabby Girl). And Powder Puff, the women later told me, was an adult (but kitten size) and the woman who wanted to take him knew very well that you don't take an adult feral cat into your home to make into your cuddly pet. The conversation was all about what a shame it was that he was so pretty and everyone just wanted to snuggle with him, but they'd never be able to.

The human preference for creatures that are more attractive (by traditional standards) is disturbing to me. As I walk through my neighborhood, people stop me when I'm with Violet and Charles because they think my dogs are beautiful, and that's an odd feeling. It's as if, like Powder Puff, they are somehow inherently more worthwhile as individuals because of their attractiveness. They are worth saving, worth cuddling with, and they deserve to be out of the cold (or heat). Perhaps most important (to us, apparently, as I doubt they care), is that they are deserving of our affection.

There's something wrong with that.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Connie Graham #

    IMHO, just additional evidence of our nurtured cultural preferences. After all, aren't "beautiful" people more deserving of love than fat women, women over the age of 30, bald men (unless they are "hot" like Michael Jordan and Patrick Stewart)? And haven't the dog and cat breeders of the world (and the media) convinced most of us that pure bred dogs and cats are somehow more desirable and more attractive than mangy mutts or alley cats? I have to confess that the prejudice/bias has infected me to some degree. Not that the cats/kittens I've acquired over the years from trapping expeditions don't come in all shapes, sizes and colors – but I am partial to Siamese and Siamese-mix cats. My very first cat was a seal point Siamese and not only was she lovely, but she was so intelligent and she TALKED! I love cats who vocalize and most of mine don't.

    But to take this one step further, and something else to consider is "natural selection." Within the world of non human animals, it is generally the biggest and strongest that "earn" of honor of perpetuating the species. In many species it is the female who judges her suitors and deems which of several will win her affection, so to speak. In species where males and females are dimorphic, it is the male who has the brightest colors, largest antlers, etc. Of course, this helps them stand out in the crowd and also makes them easier targets – whether for human hunters or natural predators. Why is that? Because the female, in most species, is the most important gender because she raises the young and, thus, perpetuates the species. Males of the species are more expendable. Moral of the story: it's the human men who should be wearing the makeup, dressing the nicest and competing in single Mr. America contests where the women judge them and deem acceptable or not. Just saying……………another case of just how divorced from the natural world human culture has become.

    February 22, 2009
  2. Yes, for sure – the "beauty myth" corrupts our view of animals too… It's sad that "pretty" cats and dogs are adopted sooner than the ugly ducklings. Some feel their "cuteness" makes them more valuable. This wrongful prejudice is responsible for millions of animals being bred for their appealing looks alone. I'm certain slaves were bought on determined esthetics as well. Gosh, isn't man an absolute vain species.

    BTW, Ms. Otto, Mr. Powder Puff and Dieci are all very lucky (and beautiful) cats. You're doing a wonderful thing Mary – thank you.

    February 22, 2009
  3. Morganna #

    Interesting points. About selection of mates: it seems to me that with most other primates (I'm thinking of chimps & gorillas) the males do a lot of the selecting, too. Are humans that far away from that? Just throwing that out there.

    I do think it's a shame that humans tend to prefer the prettiest individuals. I think it goes back to that the individuals who look prettiest are probably healthiest, and, with animals that fight, the prettiest are probably the gentlest and/or savviest (able to avoid fights). Not saying that's right, and humans take it beyond that into deciding which healthy characteristics are most attractive.

    February 22, 2009

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