Why Do We Care More About Animals Than People?

The “real” tragedy of the Abernathy Farm massacre

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.



3 thoughts on “Why Do We Care More About Animals Than People?

  1. Probably for many reasons and varies from person to person. I loved my old kitty more then most people I know. My kitty was there was I was depressed, sick or suicidal as well as when I was happy or when my system would shut down completely both physically and mentally. .

    My kitty was always there for me, never hurt me, never made me want to cry and never ripped my heart out. Even when died he was in my arms and purring trying to snuggle with me but too weak to move much.

    If my kitty were still alive i would rescue him from a burning house, sinking car or put a bullet in someone before I let them eat my kitty. There are a VERY few people that are an exception to this rule.

    Basically it boils down to: unless your kitty is a lion they probably aren’t going to hurt you. The same can’t be said for people.

    I’m not as attached to my other kitty but we didn’t go through the same times. Still, he sits with me when I am depressed, plays when we are happy, snuggles with me and loves me without any ulterior motives and would still love me the same whether I am dirt poor or win the lottery. Even though I’m not as close to my current kitty I still like him better then most people and would put a bullet in most people before I let them eat him. He’s a better ‘person’.

    Even in fallout, those programmed people could easily be raiders our super mutants and they would be using the same set of code with minor variants. One little tweak in the code, most likely just single digit variable and those settlers are trying to blow your head off. The cats would be a completely separate set of code and nowhere in the code are they jumping on your face to bite it off.

    And of corse they are very cute. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm. Well, I can understand being very attached to your cats (in lean times, I’ve given my kitties the meat in the house and eaten ramen for weeks), but I’m wondering more about the human tendency to favor pets over people.

      Much as I love my pets, if it really came down to it, and I’m talking about people being in a resorting-to-cannibalism situation, the pets have got to go first. It would be horrible, of course, but I can’t imagine killing someone’s kid or family member while sparing a cat or dog. Unless, of course, the person in question is a sociopathic monster (in which case, I don’t care if they make it). I love cats and dogs but am not going to slaughter humans for food first.

      (And if you’re escaping a sinking car, I guess a cat is easier to carry, but that’s not really the point of the thought exercise.)

      If you do feel that cats are better than most people, then why not be a vegetarian? Cows aren’t likely to hurt you and don’t care about material wealth either. It’s strange how many people say they love animals more than people, but are only talking about cats and dogs–the rest they will happily eat.

      Maybe it comes down to age-old survival instincts: we save anything connected to ourselves first? I mean, as awful as it would be for my pet to die for me, the pain of someone losing a loved one would have to be worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good thoughts. I’m definitely not a vegetarian and I don’t love animals in general more then people. It was that one cat in particular. It has more to do with the timing then anything else. I had a lot of things going on in my life with nobody to lean on and my cat was the one constant in my life. I wouldn’t kill someone to feed my cat as I am sure my cat could hunt down whatever he wanted but if someone had threatened to eat him i would have shot them in my cats self defense. Of course this is all assuming there was some natural disaster or something and law and order were out the window. And this is also assuming my cat didn’t just bolt which is what would happen in reality. But in an imaginary world my old cat and I would be in some shanty hanging out eating rats or something and someone threatened him its game on. I suppose I think of the imaginary situation like Mad Max where he is starving but yet he still has his dog and they roam the world on adventures together. That same image has been transferred to Fallout with the lone survivor hanging out with his dog in the advertisements.

    As far as the general human tendencies I think a lot of it is similar to my attachment to my own cats. For some people it’s dogs or other animals but for me it happens to be cats. Over a span of time there are a lot of changes in peoples live and a lot of those things suck but the one constant would be the persons pet. The pet is not likely to intentionally do anything to hurt your feelings or mess with your emotions. They won’t cost you your job, won’t steal from you, won’t give you crap for really anything, and they are always there. They love you and are happy to see you…as long as you feed them of course. We also imagine pets as sort of needing us so there is a bonding. In reality of course cats and dogs both live in the wild just fine until a human, or other predatory animal, hurts it.

    I believe the same mentality goes towards kids as well. Obviously it is a vastly different ballpark but even in Fallout 3 you couldn’t shoot or attack the kids in the game. A buddy of mine was really upset about that which is how i know. I was disturbed that he wanted to kill a video game kid which in reality doesn’t matter as it is just a game but still it bothered me. In real life if people see a child lost or crying people will go out of there way to ensure the kid is safe as they are vulnerable yet a homeless grown man will be completely ignored in most cases. The child is innocent while the grown person may have made life choices and actions to get to that point and could also potentially be a danger, strictly due to being an adult, as a child or pet isn’t. If you think about it the same mentality isn’t widely placed on pit bulls or large dogs as they can be a danger, same with a lion or completely freaked out feral cat.

    I also think that in video games the pets are vastly different. Of course I am looking at it from a programmers standpoint but the code for the animal would be different then that of the human and a slight 1 character change and that peaceful settler is now trying to shoot you so there is a bit less of an attachment to the people in the games. Even from a non programming standpoint we all know that if we get caught pick pocketing the whole town tries to kill you while the cats in the game just chill. They also seem innocent and therefore off limits for being hurt while the humans likely did something bad in there history.

    But yes, I do think cats are less likely to do bad things then people so I tend to like, or more accurately trust, my cats more then i do people in general. I also do like sitting with my back to a door and don’t like people touching my pinky as I can almost feel them breaking it when they do. I’ve never actually broken my pinky finger so maybe that comes from a past life but I have to trust someone implicitly to let them touch my pinky finger. I also don’t see cats as a threat where as when I walk into an unknown room or down the street i generally notice everyone and determine there threat level. That is definitely due to some life experiences that were less then friendly while I have never had that experience with a cat.

    I know it sounds like I am a weird introvert that just hangs out with his cats but in reality I am an extrovert and know thousands of people. While I enjoy hanging out with people very much, more so then my cats, i still don’t trust them as much as I do my cats. Of course I have never been in a conversation with my cat and then have it put a gun in my face, pull a knife on me or been in a fight for my life with a cat.

    If it were a true survival situation like the Donner party I am sure my orange kitty would be delicious will a little salt and pepper cooked in it’s own fat and then turned into a kitty taco. Of course in that same situation I would still shoot someone for trying to eat my cat unless it was an actual loved one and not just an acquaintance. That would be for many reasons. #1 its my cat, pal and potential meal, #2 in that desperate of a situation that same person would be an even bigger threat to my loved ones so I would shoot them anyway just to keep my family safe. I wouldn’t risk having an aggressive relative stranger starving to death in the same room as my vulnerable kids. On the other hand I would let a starving kitty in the room as they aren’t a true threat.

    In any case that was a long winded way of saying that pets are vulnerable, innocent and not a threat as well as being cute while people can be a threat especially in video games. If you accidentally pick up a red/owned used ash tray the whole damn town is out to kill you while the kitties are just looking cute and meowing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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