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The Political Economy of Cats and Dogs

Posted on Sunday, January 21, 2024
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by David P. Deavel
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AMAC Exclusive – By David P. Deavel

Maggie Deavel, at age 5, cuddles with Louie and Cora
Maggie Deavel, at age 5, cuddles with Louie and Cora.

This January my family celebrated the third anniversary of our getting two gray-and-black striped Tabby cats. Like many Americans during the great overreaction to COVID-19, we had decided to get more pets—or, perhaps more accurately, we gave in to the seven children’s pleas for more pets. We can’t imagine getting rid of them three years later, but we are among the fortunate. As a recent story from WGGB in western Massachusetts tells it, animal shelters are currently full of pets people have had to part from—not because they don’t want them, but because they can’t afford them.

As Heather Callahan, director of the Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control and Adoption Center, tells the news station, it’s not about people being tired of animals they had gotten on a whim. It’s about the fallout from the economy post-COVID. “People either are getting evicted [or] their job status has changed, we’ve all seen costs go up, whether it’s our grocery bill or utilities, those things are really impacting people right now and anything that impacts people, also impacts their pets.” 

People love their cats and dogs. For many of the elderly, ordinarily and especially under those COVID restrictions, pets served as their main companions. And yet, even as the Democratic/regime media keeps chirping about how great “the Biden Economy” is, when you get into the details, it’s a bit different. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.” We might say the same of a man’s politics. The classical meaning of politics is the right ordering of the city. That right order ought to include accommodations for cats and dogs.

We had been in the market for some new pets for a while. Many goldfish had passed by us (usually quickly). Freddie the Frog and Toadie the Toad were buried under a rock in the yard with the chalked inscription: “R.I.P. Freddie and Toadie. Good Pets.” Our three guinea pigs, too, had departed from this life to whatever life, if any, such snuffling creatures have. And the increased time at home due to the various shutdowns of life meant that the cries for new pets were growing louder. So, some friends told us at the end of 2020, the family from whom they had gotten one of their kittens said that another litter of kittens was here, born on November 8. When they were weaned at ten weeks, we could come and get some.

So, after school on Friday, January 8, 2021, we drove out to a house out in the country east of St. Paul, Minnesota. The family had a contracting business, so the remaining four kittens were out in the big equipment barn running around and playing beneath the equipment and materials. One big and friendly one was reserved for the family—he had Bengal markings and they had already named him “Simba.” He was playing with two of his brothers. They were all friendly and playful with us as well. The remaining female was hiding under a worktable.

We chose one of the brothers and, at my younger daughter’s insistence, the shy little sister. We put them in a box in which the kids had placed ribbons for them to play with and a blanket to snuggle in. We then went home and discovered the great and primal joy of kittens.

Names were not settled on immediately. One son wanted to name them Huckle and Sally after the famous brother-sister cats in Richard Scarry’s picture books. Other suggestions included Thor and Freya or perhaps Zeus and Artemis. We settled on Louie, for Louis IX, King of France and known to most as St. Louis. Sister became Cora, a cute name and the name of the baby sister of my older daughter’s friend.

Cats, it is said, know what you’re talking about; they just don’t care. This was definitely true of Cora. Smaller than her brother and not a fan of so much cuddling, she never really grew out of her early habit of hiding from crowds. Though she’ll sleep at the feet of two of my kids, she only allows my older daughter to cuddle her. And even that’s limited.

Yet small as she is, she is a great mouser. She’s not just shy. She is generally silent—unless demanding we give her a treat or open the door for her. On her second day in the house, she managed to find a mouse under a bookshelf. Many other mice, bunnies, birds, chipmunks, and, since we moved to Texas, lizards, snakes, and frogs, have met their maker because of sweet little Cora. Just this week I was alerted to the presence of a mouse’s head sitting in front of the TV. Cora!

If Cora is a cat-cat, Louie, on the other hand, is what we call a dog-cat. From the beginning, he allowed me to hold him in my arms on his back as one would cradle a baby. Cora has always looked on in disgust at this un-feline behavior. Yet he is the baby of the family. Any gathering in the living room to watch TV or play a game is a call for him to plop himself down in the middle of the family—and sometimes in the middle of the game board. Since the kitten Louie discovered he could go anywhere in the house and promptly found our bed with a big cat (me) in it, he has slept at my feet. At about 6 AM he usually walks from my legs onto my chest, meows loudly, and rubs my face till I get him a treat from the refrigerator. The kids claim that he is the favorite child of the family. I can neither confirm nor deny….

We were worried that when we moved to Texas two years ago they would have a tough time of it. Nothing doing. With that supply of exotic new outdoor prey, they are just fine. A neighborhood cat comes by every morning to greet them in the driveway. And unlike our old Minnesota neighborhood, where a neighbor threatened to take them to animal control because their killing of animals bothered his wife, our next-door neighbors here are glad that Louie and Cora keep the pests out of their garden.

We care about pets not just because they are useful but because they are God’s creatures who bring us joy, comfort, and companionship. In fact, says the philosopher Peter Kreeft, they may well be in Heaven someday because, even now, they can “mediate God’s love and goodness to us and train us for our union with him.”

As we celebrate the third year of our own feline mediators of divine love and goodness, we thank God for them—and pray for those who must give up their own companions due to bad political and economic decisions. Bidenomics is bad for humans and all living things.

David P. Deavel teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. A past Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, he is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. Follow him on X @davidpdeavel.

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Elizabeth S Misa
Elizabeth S Misa
6 months ago

I can totally relate to this story. My dog of 16 years died in 2019 and I was heartbroken. So, in 2020 during the pandemic I went looking for another dog. I found a Shih Tzu that nobody wanted because he couldn’t be a show dog. Wow! He was one year old already potty trained, great! Who couldn’t like that? So, I bought him, we bonded so quickly. Not sure who rescued who. Now he is 4 years old and is a therapy dog! We are having so much fun putting smiles on sad faces!

Bill
Bill
6 months ago

Sweet precious story, thanks for sharing. It takes me back.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
6 months ago

I’m a dog person myself but had a cat I adopted. Our 12 year old chihuahua died and the house felt so empty a month later got Pirate, my Russell Terrier. Year later I got a Tibetan and they’re both my little boo boos. Bidenomics sure made their food prices go up… even dogs are affected by bad leaders!

Red Hawk1
Red Hawk1
6 months ago

Bidenmonics has affected pet care costs. We recently had an older dog abandoned at our farm. His first visit to the vet proved him to be the healthiest dog the vet had ever examined. Cost $250. Last week he went for his annual checkup. He was still healthy, had no issues, and the bill was well over $300. I feel sorry for the animals.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
6 months ago

Ex pet parent: lost my adopted adult cat to racoon, outdoors long hair black cat.
Empty without him
Then lost our cockapoo Molly to old age & my cat Shadow went into Grief & killed by racoon.
Miss cuddling in bed with him

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
6 months ago

If you’re worried about leaving a dog behind, try adopting an older dog and giving it a good “life-that’s-left” it has. Older dogs are always last to be taken because everyone wants a young one but older dogs still have lots of young love in them!

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