Drawing the Line

by kpmautner

Where do you draw the line between practicality and overprotectiveness?  Case in point:

Recently had a long conversation with a dear friend, an avid cat person.  He has four at the moment.  I told him about the last pair of cats I had, and what had become of them.  I acquired them as a favor to someone who was mortally ill and needed to find them a home.  The female went to one of my students, and eventually lived 23 years as queen of the roost.

The male and I did not get along.  He blamed me for the loss of his front claws, his manhood and his mother (all legit complaints) and made his annoyance quite clear.  He found himself a very happy home with the mother of my secretary.  She was 85 at the time, competently living alone, but lonely to the point of depression.  The cat turned this around completely.  She had someone to talk to and pamper.  And pamper she did.  I don’t think that cat ever set foot on the floor.  She carried him to his litter box, poached salmon for him (he preferred white wine sauce), stroked him while she watched her soaps, and let him help her pick out pieces for her quilting.  The cat went from a lithe 7-pounder (when he came to me) to a 19-pound grey furry meatloaf.

What caused the dispute with my friend was my comment that the cat’s obesity, in this particular case, didn’t matter to me at all.  My point was that the cat had a job to do (providing an elderly lady with companionship) and if the immense amount of weight affected the length of his life, that wasn’t particularly important, as long as he was otherwise healthy and the elderly lady was happy.  My friend was horrified and called me abusive, saying that the cat should immediately have been put on a strict diet and forced to exercise, etc …

I think there comes a time when pragmatism and the weighing of evils takes precedence over paternalistic protection.  The cat was happy, the lady was happy, and he lifted her out of her depression and enabled her to live the life she wanted.

I’d welcome your takes on this.