Oh brother. A woman named Faye Flam, who writes the Planet of the Apes blog for the Philadelphia Inquirer about evolution—Get it? We’re all just apes. Get it?—has written a distinctly unevolutionary blog supposedly word processed by her cat Higgs, in which the cat attacks human exceptionalism. From Higgs the Cat on the Folly of Human Exceptionalism:
I’ve come to suspect that you humans are misled by an unconscious desire to tie uniquely human traits with those qualities you most value and desire to cultivate in yourselves. That’s a false connection. Your best human traits may very well be ones you share with other species. Many of you, for example, value the ability to give and receive love as one of the loftiest capacities of the human soul. This is not only within my ability but the essence of my job description.
My love was hard-earned and required months of patience because my roots are feral and human beings once terrified me. Now, however, I have opened my heart to a once alien species and I bring joy and delight to all who touch me.
Don’t get me wrong. I see big differences between the human and cat psyches. But I don’t see one as superior to the other. Some of you humans use up much of your short time on this Earth agonizing about the meaning of life, for example. I just live. Thanks for letting me express my opinions Higgs.
Actually, it is precisely the other way around, Higgs. Our love and care for you cats intentionally changed feline behavior in ways that would never happen in nature via evolution. That is another way in which we are exceptional. We change and intelligently design animal natures, in a process known as domestication, to suit our ends. Whatever part you played in that, was not intentional. Indeed, Higgs. You are only named Higgs because your exceptional mistress—or another human—named you. That too, is unique to humans. It personalizes you in our minds and hearts.
And here’s the kicker: Unlike exceptional humans, Higgs, you have no choice but to “just live.” As an animal, that’s all you can do. And you don’t have an opinion on the matter of human exceptionalism to share. Flam pretended you wrote the post as a way of expressing her own opinion. (I trust I do not offend.)
I do admit, however, that you cats powerfully—mercilessly—manipulate the exceptional ones. But again, that too is more about us more than it is about you. We trained you how to control us with your wiles, and your purring, and your rubbing your faces against our legs, and refusing to eat perfectly good food—PLEASE EAT, KITTY! PLEASE! I bought the most expensive food in the store!—I could go on and on. Having owned cats for most of my life, I can attest that you do that voodoo that you do, very well. But that’s only because of who we are. If you tried those games on a coyote, you would soon be dinner.