I was really pleased to see my article ‘Making The Connection’ about my cat Harry in the December/January edition of Vegan Life Magazine! Harry’s change in behaviour when he lost his brother, another rescued young cat, made me see how animals experience a wide spectrum of feelings and emotions, just the same as humans. Here’s my article:
Making The Connection – My Friend Harry
For my birthday five years ago, I had a very unexpected surprise. My parents insisted I visit a house with them and as I entered, with cats everywhere, I soon discovered that this was the house of a Cat’s Protection Fosterer. I was then introduced to two adorable kittens; my parents had adopted them for my birthday. They were running around the room, completely full of life. I found out that at only a few weeks old, they had been abandoned and left in a caravan park. I couldn’t understand how anyone could do this to such helpless kittens. I named the black and white kitten Marv, and the white and tabby kitten Harry.
As time went on, we really started to see the kittens’ personalities. Marv was a highly affectionate cat, he always wanted attention and loved everybody. However Harry couldn’t have been more different; he didn’t like to be fussed and we wouldn’t dare to pick him up. He didn’t seem to like people at all, in fact, the only thing he seemed to like, was Marv.
Around two years later, things changed for Harry and our whole family. It was a sunny afternoon and Harry and Marv were playing in the garden, but when we called them in, only Harry came back home. The next evening, we received the heartbreaking news that Marv had been hit by a car very close by, and unfortunately, he didn’t survive. We were devastated that this had happened to poor Marv, and couldn’t bear to think what Harry would do without his brother.
That evening, Harry came to join us as we talked about what a lovely cat Marv was. He then sat on my lap, and looked deep into my eyes. It was as though he desperately wanted some sort of explanation, he seemed desperate for comfort. I stroked him and for the first time ever he didn’t run away, he just closed his eyes and curled up in a ball on my lap.
I have always known that animals have their own feelings and emotions, but have never seen it as clearly as with Harry. Abandoned as a kitten, he clung onto his brother for comfort and saw him as his only friend in the world. When he lost him, you could almost feel the pain that Harry was feeling. At the time I was already a vegetarian, but Harry got me thinking about the other pain animals are forced to endure. Dairy cows, for example, have to live with the constant grief of watching helplessly as their babies are taken from them shortly after being born. Just as Harry grieved for his brother, they would for their babies, and they would have to go through this every time they gave birth. I made the connection, and became vegan. I didn’t want to support an industry that caused such suffering for animals.
Today, Harry has completely transformed since the day we first took him home. He is such a loving and affectionate cat. My favourite part of the day is walking down my drive and looking up to see him looking out my window, he then comes running to see me as soon as he hears the key in the door. He is a constant reminder of how sensitive animals are, just like people. His emotions are complex and he has many different moods, exactly the same as animals that are living on factory farms. I hope that more people will make the connection between the animals we share our homes with, and those used for meat or dairy.