Thoughts on Life

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?

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2 Responses to Thoughts on Life

  1. Rain Trueax says:

    I think it’s when the animal is in pain and sick. We might wish we could have the same benefit for ourselves and a few states do have death with dignity but generally humans are just supposed to suffer…

  2. Harold says:

    I think my issue is that people seem to consider the killing of four-legged loved ones outside of the context of killing our loved ones or killing in general, and I think that’s an error in logic. Unless we stipulate that there are grades of life, I think we can’t legitimately make that distinction.
    I made the call, with the support of my sisters, to stop treatment of my mother once I accepted that there was no chance she was not going die there within hours without regaining consciousness as I would for any sentient being. Max has already had a cardiac failure under anesthetic for dental work so he’s probably going to go blind from his cataracts, but I’m assured that he’ll most likely be fine so long as I don’t move the furniture around. Without saying “never,” I don’t see me killing him unless I decide to eat him.