I’ve been playing Fallout 4 lately, and I don’t know if you’ve played the game, but in this version, you can build settlements. You help out some settlers by clearing the feral ghouls or raiders that have been hassling them, and they will join your cause. You end up building a network of resource-producing farms across the land.
Occasionally, someone attacks your settlements and you’ve got to run over to help them fight off the invaders before they take out your people.
Well, there’s one settlement called Abernathy Farm, where a family that plants potatoes lives with their little gray cat. Even though I had built up some turrets at this place, I was too late to save everyone after a team of Super Mutants wreaked havoc there.
And while I was mopping up the last of the Super Mutants, recently, I looked over and noticed that the little gray cat was dead.
I was horrified, and its little body still sits there because I haven’t cleaned up the cat meat yet. In this game, you can pretty much scoop up the meat from any animal you kill, including wild dogs, but I can’t bring myself to virtually eat cat meat, even though it’s not doing the cat much good anymore.
I’ve been avoiding visiting this settlement ever since, finding the sight of the dead cat so upsetting. I’m so distressed by it, in fact, that I’ve been pondering the many reasons my sadness makes little sense:
- This isn’t real. It’s not a real cat. This is a made-up game containing a bunch of cartoon characters that don’t actually exist
- This is a super violent video game with buckets of ridiculous gore (heads blowing up and whatnot), so grieving over a cat laying on its side seems ridiculous
- All kinds of people die in this game, and I don’t even know if all the Abernathy farm family members made it, because I was too busy being worried about their pet
This is really weird, and I don’t think I’m the only one it applies to. There are wars going on all over the world, homeless people starving in the streets, and yet a lot of us are more concerned about kitties and puppies?
We must be the only species that does this. I mean, are any other animals more concerned about a different species than their own kind?
We care more about friends and family, of course… while I’m very attached to my kitties, if it came down to it, they’re going to get eaten or left in the sinking car before anyone I know and love. But when you’re talking about a random cat or dog versus a random person, I think many of us get more sentimental about the pet. Starving puppy trumps hungry person in a pull-the-heartstrings round.
And that’s bizarre, when you stop and think about it. Maybe it’s because we think animals are more vulnerable, helpless and innocent. It bothers us to think of them as casualties in conflicts that humans create.
Or maybe it’s just because they’re cute and furry. I don’t know, but I’ve never seen a cat start a fund to feed the hungry humans.
Or maybe I have. Sometimes they put in a hard day hunting then bring us their dead mouse or bird trophies to fill our bellies. We must seem so ungrateful when we shriek and reject their presents.