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On Cat Killers and Mental Competency

People in South Florida are still in an uproar over the mutilation and slaughter of 19 house cats (allegedly) by 18-year old Tyler Weinman, who was declared mentally competent and not a danger to himself or others (!). There have been inquiries as to the possible relationship between his dissection of cats in school and the 19 counts of cruelty he is being charged with. (Felony animal cruelty is the cruel killing of an animal, and he is also being charges with 19 counts of improperly disposing of an animal body.) The four counts of burglary he is being charged with carry a heftier sentence than the animal killing. Weinman had participated in cat dissection in school, and that is being discussed as a possible trigger for his behavior.

The outrage I've been seeing and hearing is typical, as we like cats. We humans have decided that, for a combination of reasons that are important to us, cats are worthy of our respect. I do find it interesting that there is a subculture we've all seen via vicious bumperstickers that attest to the existence of people who hate–and I mean hate–cats and want to see them dead or dying. I also find it interesting that I've never heard of a woman among their ranks. I don't trust people who hate cats because there's something else going on there. Cats represent something: independence. Cats are slaves to no one, at least according to their reputation, which in my experience holds true. And people who want to kill those they cannot control scare me.

I can't think of another animal so hated by humans that they have actually created an industry to publicize their hatred and their wish to hurt and kill them. We don't say we hate cows. In fact we say we love them. Grilled. We don't say we hate pigs and want to see them writhing in pain and slaughtered. Pigs definitely don't get much respect from humans, but the evil (and I can't think of a better word and I don't mean it in a religious sense) I see around cat-haters is different. There's sadism there, and that's not good.

I don't know if dissecting a cat corpse can lead to the desire to steal and mutilate 19 live cats; that seems like a stretch. If someone had it in him to kill cats and cut them open and toss out their entrails, I'm fairly certain that cutting open a dead cat isn't the reason. At some point, he was going to kill cats and cut them open. What is most surprising is that he was declared mentally competent, as mentally competent people don't go around killing cats.

Or maybe that's not so surprising.

Mentally competent people, oddly enough, go around mutilating and killing deer and ducks and cougars, though, when doing so either is in season or some governmental body has decided their numbers need trimming. And mentally competent people slice the throats of flailing cows hanging by one leg. And mentally competent people chain calves to crates. And mentally competent people shovel hundreds of day-old male chicks at a time into what is basically a giant blender to be macerated. And mentally competent people tear babies away from their mothers, as both wail in distress and agony. And mentally competent people anally electrocute mink or skin them alive.

And some mentally competent people know that all of this occurs and they still eat and wear animals.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great post, Mary.

    You hit this one on the head: Cats represent independence. On so many levels, it explains why (especially controlling men) love to proclaim their hatred for cats.

    June 26, 2009
  2. Great post Mary!

    I was just lurking on an industry forum, following a story about a group that is bringing chickens in to a senior home – because it brought back childhood memories for many of the residents who once lived a rural life. There was a sentence about a man in a wheelchair, with a bird in his lap… They were both quite cozy and fast asleep – in a mutal state of safety and peace.

    Well, I never realized how much loathing there was for chickens either.
    Such a threat was this story that it bit into the core of what they would not allow themselves to acknowledge: that chickens do/can bring joy! That they are not "just" broilers, or fryers, or nuggets or "poultry". These competent people ranted with mean one-liners about chicken dinners and being "breastmen". They would not allow themselves one bit of kindness… for the sake of a lowly (live) chicken…

    These people are mentally competent alright… enough to know what they cannot allow themselves to know. Just like this cat-killing person knew just enough to not know.

    And understanding this – being among the cat and chicken haters, the animal fur wearers and eaters — is like living with the dead…

    June 26, 2009
  3. Connie Graham #

    THANK YOU. I have often discussed with friends and acquaintances society's differing "opinions" between cats and dogs. Some people will admit they don't "like" dogs or are afraid of them. I've never heard anyone say they HATE dogs. Conversely, people frequently say they hate cats – to my face, even when they know how strongly I feel about cats. IMHO, cats and snakes are the two most hated nonhumans on the planet. Both are associated with women & religion. The snake, aka The Devil, who tempted Eve and then Eve was responsible for the downfall of humans and ejection from The Garden of Eden. And snakes were sacred to early Goddess worship. Then there was the wonderful Dark Ages, when wise women and their "familiars", cats who were the Devil in disguise, were drowned, burned alive or hung by the Church fathers because they were witches and Devil worshipers.

    Scratch a "cat-hater" and you will almost always find a misogynist. After all, aren't cats a woman's "pet?" Just saying………….

    June 27, 2009
  4. Interesting post — I saw a link to it on Twitter from a vegan tweeter.

    I'm vegetarian, not vegan, and a cat-lover. I too am appalled by cruelty to all animals, not just cats. But I have to say, in the case in Florida, I think it's probably for the good that the man who killed the cats was judged mentally competent, because that means that he has to stand trial and cannot plead insanity as a defense — is that correct?

    I hope he is mentally competent enough to feel remorse and to change. Let's hold out that hope.

    Best wishes,
    Gillian Kendall

    June 29, 2009
  5. Good point Gillian about mental competency in the courts.

    It is a good thing – as far as the court system goes – that he was deemed mentally competent – therefore he will be able to receive a proper (and hopefully) harsh sentence for the crimes he committed.

    On another note – outside of the court system – I really feel that people, when it comes to animal suffering, are either:

    a) Ignorant to their suffering (like most meat-eaters and vegetarians) or just in an extreme state of cognitive dissonance or

    b) Not mentally competent human beings; they are in fact lacking the mental capacity for compassion; which is an argument most people make when it comes to the superiority of humans vs. non-humans (which I will argue against considering I know for a fact that my dog is a compassionate being) – therefore humans who lack compassion are less than human or non-human in my eyes.

    July 1, 2009
  6. RES #

    I am a male, successful and independent. I love cats. I have ALWAYS loved cats. They are smart, they don't bark all night, they are independent and they are emotional. I don't what other males think if I like cats. By the way, any adult human in the U.S. who treats pets (any pet) in an abusive way is a complete character disorder. No questions asked.

    July 6, 2009
  7. Cats also tend to be associated with women – after all, they are the stereotypical companion of lonely, childless, man-hating, hairy-legged, feminist spinster aunts. Women who seem to have little need for men, so much so that they've succeeded in breaking free of male ownership (in the form of marriage). Women who are every bit as independent as "their" cats.

    See also: gay men (who are typically associated with women).

    July 7, 2009

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