I see a lot of things on the internet. Some truly disturbing (in all sincerity do not follow this link), some life-affirmingly wonderful, some overwhelmingly cute. This clip I’m about to show you is like a lovely, pure blend of the latter two.
The title of it on Reddit is ‘a cat introducing its kittens to an old friend.’ Now, who knows if that is actually what is happening here. It certainly looks like it is, but I have seen way too many clips and videos with a neat and front page-ready headline, only for someone with knowledge of the situation to chime in in the comments to say that, actually, this is not what happened at all. Invariably, that comment is way, way down in the thread, buried underneath the much more fun pop culture references and puns. Reporting on the oft-less colourful truth rarely makes as much of a splash as a sensationalised headline. Isn’t that right, Scott?
Yeahhhh, you ffffff—…
(Sorry, Tom McCarthy, mate. You know I think your movies rock).
Anyway let’s just take this clip and title combination at face value. Why not. It’s Friday. We’ve earned this Pixar short story playing out in real life:
Yeah, I think ‘A cat introducing its kittens to an old friend,’ is a fine enough headline for that. Mind you it could just as easily be, ‘Mama Cat shows her kittens to Uncle Dog and Uncle Dog plays with them while Mama Cat has a much-needed lie down, after which Mama Cat and Uncle Dog play with each other like when they were younger!’
Excuse me while I pull my heart out of my chest and throw it into the bin and order a new one because it has overloaded and malfunctioned.
I love animals. Nature is such a funny thing. On the one hand it’s an amoral, dog-eat-dog arena of blood and carnage where hyenas hunt down prey by biting it on the testicles and then devouring it alive by pulling out its intestines; and on the other hand you see clear examples of what we would call solidarity and love and altruism. We make a moral distinction between the behaviours that we see as violent and those we see as nurturing, but in all likelihood that is just a quirk particular to us. Nature doesn’t care. There is no good and evil. There’s just life and death, survival, when even that. Most of nature is, let’s not forget, just rocks and gas. Hydrogen and dark matter. Whoop-de-woo. What a party. We’re lucky enough to be in one of the miraculously bustling corners of the Universe, where there is everything from protozoa to ants to whales to those weird humans who have decided to view the chaotic, matter-of-fact churn of life and death through the prism of morality.
Yet it might not actually be quite as simple as that. Animals do exhibit examples of behaviour that stand out as oddly ‘moral’. Or at the very least sweet and caring. Loving and friendly. It’s important to remember that as much of a leap there is between our brain and the next one down on the complexity pecking order, that is fundamentally all it comes down to—the complexity of the spongy grey pilot in our skulls. We are animals too. Just ones who by a quirk of evolution were subjected to a bit of a quantum leap in terms of computing power. And let’s be honest, in terms of systemic impact, a hyena chewing on a wildebeest testicle might look to us a particularly grisly method of survival, but let’s ask the entire species we’ve driven to extinction who the real exemplar of brutality is before we pass judgement. Goddamn human virus scum with their industrial, planet-ravaging capit—…
No! Not today. Back to the happy place.
Image sources (in order of posting): Reddit, HBO