Quinby, my elderly cat, would lie on the sunny bricks outside the front door. I’d check every few minutes, but I didn’t need to worry. Quinby couldn’t walk very far.
One day the vet asked, “Why are you waiting?”
I listened. Quinby, rescued 19 years earlier, had always been such a cheery character. It was sad to see discomfort overtake that joy.
“I’m not sure it’s right for me to decide. I want Quinby’s passing to be natural.” I vaguely sensed the word’s hollowness the moment after I said it.
“You know what would be natural for a seriously weakened cat? A predator. Maybe a coyote. Shocking, painful? Yes, but less painful than going on and on with drugs, getting sick and struggling for breath. We try to extend life far beyond anything natural.”
Fair and truthful, this doctor was. The veterinary profession is unnatural. Breeding animals is unnatural.
“You rescued this cat once. Now, rescue this cat again.”
We have a deep dislike for predation—which, once upon a time, was a natural way of leaving our bodies to the Earth. Underneath our lofty conceits, we human apes are prey animals.
We love to create hierarchies, though, and put ourselves at the top. We’ve denied predators their natural role by annihilating them. As we kill off the big cats and wolves, elk and deer are left to face death by bullets and arrows and wasting diseases.
Coyotes have moved into the vacuum. Coyotes can and do curb deer populations. Why does coyote coexistence get so little traction? Animal advocates are more likely to be found imploring towns to trap deer and inject them with experimental contraceptive potions.
No, thanks. Unhand these animals. Defend the predators’ rightful role in the cycle of life and death.
For years, William Ripple and other ecologists have chronicled the “carnivore cleansing” done by humans worldwide, leading to the preponderance of deer and elk browsing on the woody foliage, degrading bird habitat and so on. Carnivore animals would allow the foliage to flourish and store carbon, also protecting the climate.
Imposing an unnatural authority over biological realities is a prominent trait of ours—and our tragic flaw.
Dedicated to Mary Ann Baron.