I have two cats, both extremely needy. In actuality I began with one cat and noticed how needy he was, so I got another one hoping they might need each other. Now I have two cats that constantly demand my attention. The reason why I acquired a cat is because I was moving to my own apartment and society demanded I take care of an animal. Being able to make sure an animal doesn't die suggests that I can be a nurturing individual and mature enough to be an adult. Read Philip K. Dick's Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep and you'll understand what I mean.
Not to say I dont enjoy having my cats around. Often times while I'm sleeping they box me in so I stay in one position throughout the night. I've heard that's good for my back. They walk over my keyboard while I'm typing to give me that extra boost of creativity I need. Sometimes they will stand in front of the television to suggest that what I'm watching is crap. Most times they are right, but if they do it during House tonight they'll be sprayed with freezing water quicker than a college girl on spring break. Don't mess with me during House. They often sit on my chest while I'm trying to read because they are also interested in that new Chris Crutcher or Michael Chabon book. I yell at them because they could clearly read the novels while I'm at work or away, though I appreciate that I'm raising intellectually curious cats.
I do love them. I care about them and worry about them and sometimes wonder if they are okay in the apartment. They get the good cat food because I shudder at what's really in the generic store brand. The cats actually have their own bunk bed despite the fact that they dont use it. The real question though is: Would I leave them behind to save myself in a crisis?
A hundred million times yes. I could have a cat that crapped gold and I would leave it behind.
Timothy Noah's fantastic article in Slate today is an excellent and coherent argument for leaving animals behind. Animals are dumb, and while dogs tend to be more adept at reacting to odd situations, they still act with instinct. The truth is, the evacuation of New Orleans was a mess without bringing animals. Imagine how horrible it would have been if some kid insisted on bringing his six foot ball python with him.
That would not have been the bus I would have taken.
Please dont misunderstand me. I love animals. I hate puppy mill pet stores and both of my cats are from shelters. But I understand that in a crisis, pets must be left behind. I can't imagine how my cats would even respond when faced with hordes of running people trying to get away from some disaster. When we talk about the humane thing to do, sometimes we need to consider humanity in the equation.
On a brighter note, I am heartened by the massive amounts of volunteers who are going to New Orleans simply to rescue pets. I respect what you are doing, and I hope only the best for.