Cats & Dead Animal Offerings
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 21 Oct 97 14:07:52 -0700
Subject: Cats & Dead Animal Offerings
Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <email@example.com>
Forwarded-by: Margo Seltzer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I used to wonder why my cat never ate the mice she
caught until it finally dawned on me: She was trying to recompense me for
I read that cats are inclined atavistically to form groups with this
food-sharing etiquette. It seems like she's doing some feline duty, sharing
her food when she's given the rare opportunity to be a provider (she's a
Do you think she expects me to eat the mouse? Or perhaps to eat it and
share it with her? Do you think it hurts her feelings that I just throw out
her gift? Am I being rude? Is there a way to acknowledge the gift without
having to eat it?
GENTLE READER: Oh, it's going to be one of those days, is it?
Miss Manners hates anthropomorphic questions. If she so much as hints
that there might be different standards of behavior for people and animals,
she is flooded with letters from insulted pet owners who tell her about the
politeness and sensitivity of the animal members of their families.
Fine. But you still don't ask them to set the table or pass the hors
d'oeuvres, do you?
In an attempt to head this off, Miss Manners will play along, ignore
the distinction (which is probably a huge mistake), and recite the human
etiquette rule. That rule is that although you can offer a present of food,
you cannot insist that the person consume it. So, your obligations to your
cat's hospitable feelings are met when you say, "How kind of you, but no,
© 1997 Peter Langston