Cat pushing on No. 9
Reading between judicial lines resembles issues with the very elderly
You could call it an echo of the human condition, wrapped up in an animal story. Think “Watership Down” or “Free Willy.” Heck, think “Wind in the Willows.”
I’ll tell you this: I wonder in amazement about the way nothing lights up the media quite like a pet story. A hermaphrodite cat? Welcome to every possible website. Burned dog? Stray who makes it home after a moving journey across the continent? It’s the stuff of clickbait everywhere.
Such is the case of Cinnamon - a kitty now cropping up on pet care websites worldwide.
But what’s interesting in this little pet story is the sliver of selfaware anthropomorphism that slips into a court judgment about the treatment of Cinnamon, a 15-year-old Siamese cat in Victoria, B.C.
“The facts are not much in dispute. Eva Livingston is the owner of a 15-year-old Siamese cat named Cinnamon which from her early years had a difficult life,” wrote Justice H.W. Gordon in a late-December verdict.
What was in dispute was the question of whether Livingston was failing to care for her pet.
“On a visit to a veterinarian, the veterinarian advised Ms. Livingston that Cinnamon was in poor condition, with arthritis, respiratory problems, diarrhea, blocked nostril, dehydration with weight loss and deteriorating teeth. Various treatments were recommended and administered by both the veterinarian and Ms. Livingston. My assessment of what I heard and draw from the evidence is that Cinnamon was in a condition not unlike many of the very elderly in the human end of the mammalian hierarchy.” (I pause here to point out only that Justice H.W. Gordon’s age is unclear.)
“… Ms. Livingston, having in mind what the veterinarian had recommended, her assessment of Cinnamon’s level of comfort and ability to cope with certain treatments and in consultation with a trusted pet store, continued to comfort and treat Cinnamon without further visits to a veterinarian. The veterinarian had advised Ms. Livingston that Cinnamon was unlikely to live past Christmas of 2014. She was still alive at the date of the last hearing. Cinnamon would not only eat very little but many of the foods she was offered she could not tolerate or they had other side effects, again somewhat analogous to many elderly people.”
Then, we cruise gently into comparatives that might just be a corollary to the questions of assisted suicide and end of life care: “In short, Cinnamon was long past her best-before date and Ms. Livingston stated her philosophy was that animals should not be put down but be allowed to live out their lives naturally while being made as comfortable as possible.”
Followed, of course, by the interference of a good samaritan, who we might take as a symbolic representation of the nanny state.
“On June 1, 2015, a passerby of Ms. Livingston’s house spotted Cinnamon in the yard or next to the sidewalk and thought Cinnamon was in such poor condition that he or she should take her to the local animal control facility.”
Cinnamon was, of course, in hard shape. Livingston was charged. She was subsequently acquitted of the charge.
And Cinnamon? She apparently stumbles on. Big questions, addressed in a small sleek catshaped form.