Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What's So Wrong About A Cat In A Bong?

Everybody seems to be angry at the stoner from Nebraska who put his kitten inside a large bong a few times while he smoked. The cat was in no danger from fire, as far as I know -- it just got high off of the marijuana. The dude's reason is kind of amusing: apparently he "told deputies 6-month-old Shadow was hyper and he was trying to calm her down." She seems to be mostly fine.

For my part, I don't see what the problem is. Assuming that human biology and cat biology are similar in the relevant respects, Shadow probably just had a good if slightly disorienting time in there and liked the way her cat food tasted afterwards. I mean, what are people so upset about here? Is it that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and the kitten will start snorting coke? That she'll drop out of school and have trouble keeping a job? Giving euphoria-inducing drugs to animals seems a fine thing to do.


David Watkins said...

One could plausibly make the case that the consent issue matters a great deal here. The fact that I knowingly consented to recreational drug use is an absolutely essential part of my ability to enjoy the experience--it I had no idea *why* I was experiencing altered consciousness, I'd be a lot less likely to enjoy it. Now perhaps I'm guilty of a a bit of projecting anthropomorphizing here; I'm assuming cats share my own obsession with control of my experiences. But then you may be doing a bit of anthropomorphic projection about the pleasing, calming experience of marijuana.

This shows just how tricky a respectful relationship with animals really are. It might be right and good to share drug experiences with them, and it might not be, and our ability to make that distinction is starkly limited. Ultimately the cat's response is our best set of clues; cats are often not particularly cagey with their emotions. (or so we think--can we read them as well as we think we can?) But unless adivsed otherwise by a veterinary professional I'm likely to err on the side of consent until persuaded otherwise.

Neil Sinhababu said...

This shows just how tricky a respectful relationship with animals really are.

I think that's right. But with the number of decisions people make for animals (whether to have them neutered, whether to dress them up in funny costumes) I have a hard time seeing this guy as having done something particularly outrageous. Insofar as there's a big grey area here, I think it generates pressure to not be as furious at the guy as most blog commentary I've seen has been.

I can see the kitten being freaked out about suddenly being in a small smoky box. But I'm thinking that it isn't too much worse than a wide variety of strange things that might occasionally happen in her life (falling into water, being freaked out by loud noises, etc.)

Does a kitten really have the level of self-consciousness to think, "My conscious experiences are now wildly different from how they've ever been before, for reasons I can't understand!" and be disturbed and unsettled by that? I wouldn't think so, but I don't know enough about cats to be sure.

David Watkins said...

My suspicion is that cats are capable of that level of consciousness, but again, this is a best guess based on my (almost surely anthropomorphized) reading of interactions. But many, many cats respond to the unfamiliar, at least in the first instance, with indicators of fear, stress, anxiousness, etc.

Featherless Biped said...

There's a worry about negligence here: knowing how a drug affects humans isn't necessarily a reliable guide to how it will affect nonhuman animals.

On the consent point: note that there are socially (and I think morally) acceptable ways of drugging pets. I have a neighbor whose dog is on Prozac for separation anxiety and general high-strung personality. (Having met the dog with and without Prozac, I'm pretty confident that the Prozac was an excellent idea.) People also drug their pets in preparation for plane trips. And catnip is mildly euphoria-inducing.

I don't think it's a good idea to give your pet drugs when you're not sure what the drugs will do to the pet. I'm not convinced people should be criminally prosecuted for it unless they get unlucky and actually cause serious harm or suffering, but I wouldn't recommend getting your cat high as a pet-owning policy.

God, I'm starting to sound like a stodgy grown-up here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Neal:

I drifted over as a simple avid reader of TigerHawk, rarely posting there, but I like the way he digests this Abby Normal world.

I am also an avid boxer rescuer. Dogs are so much better creatures than bi-peds such as humanoids we interact with daily at work.

That said, I feel I have close and strong exposure regarding the animal reaction to our bi-ped world. I do agree with djw that cats most likely not enjoy the experience of being confined involuntarily in a smoky box. It will definitely cause a great deal of anxiety and fear. It would not be a choice on the cat's part in the natural world to crawl into a smoky confinement. Then there is the health issue with forcing thick smoky air into the lung of an innocent helpless kitten. I would think the smoke would cause some pain and discomfort.

It's absolutely baffling to me that any pet would ever be in need of Prozac as mentioned by Wiz about his neighbor's dog.

::: stepping up to the soapbox :::

Being in the boxer rescue biz, we've had dogs with all sorts of behavior problems from agression, fear, food issues to uncontrollable anxieties. Because we are not well endowed with unlimited $$$, we rely on the kindness of well adjusted bi-peds to foster these "rejects" and open their heart and homes to help these little guys get better.

99% of the dogs do go on and lead healthy, happy lives when they reach their forever home. Why? We simply provide a safe harbor with proper exercise, good diet and focused training. It's amazing how these abused creature bounce back to life.

Who is to say a dog is too hyper? He needs exercise and stimulation. Give him a yard to run, a mate to play with, and games to challenge his mind.

Separation anxieties? Let the dog feel secure, find out why he thinks he is being abandoned. Perhaps he was punished for doing his business in the house and was left too long and couldn't hold it. Fear of punishment consequences. There could be lots of reasons.

Lastly, pets are not that far removed from us genetically. Put your self into a bong like encasement, fill it up with smoke, see how long you can stand it before fear and claustrophobia sets in. I wouldn't do anything to my pets unless I can tolerate it myself.

Boxer Lover