I’ve been following a conversation regarding whether or not it’s time it’s time for someone to kill their aging and infirm cat and it struck me that the whole thing feels wrong. Nelson Mandela is 94 years old and people all over the world are anxious that he may not make it to 95, but when a good dog or cat starts showing their age and infirmity people start thinking of killing it. (I’m aware that it is politically correct to term this “euthanasia,” but if we were talking about Nelson Mandela it would just be murder.)
I accept that many religious folk view human life as a distinct variety of life, but I’m pretty sure that life is life. I’ve heard of human cultures that cast their elders adrift on ice floes or whatever, but we have kind of gotten away from that in any obvious sense. What is our rationale for doing that to non-humans? My sense, which I believe is corroborated by our pets concealing their infirmities from us, is that they’d prefer we didn’t.
I don’t mean to present a moral or ethical argument; I’ve told my dog dozens of times that if I get hungry enough, and he’s pissed me off enough, I’m eating him. The thing is that as he gets older (over 10 now) he’s actually safer from that. If I killed him off because who would want to live like that, at some point I think I’d be very uncomfortable calling the doctor or allowing myself to be seen in public because I could be next. If it makes sense then it makes sense, right?