|The great irony of lolcats
||[Dec. 12th, 2007|03:01 am]
One of the reasons lolcats are so funny is that we revel in the certitude that the cats are just cute little furries going about their cute business with no idea how much fun we're having with their pictures. But is that really true? Ludicrous as it might sound, read on.
Wild cat and house cat.
In the book The Triumph of Sociobiology, John Alcock argues that it's very puzzling from an evolutionary standpoint that humans should become attached to their pets. Sure, the relationship is mutually beneficial, but we are perfectly capable of breeding, taming and using animals without showing much affection (as with cows and chickens). On the other hand, attachment has many clear disadvantages that Alcock lists, such as our reluctance to eat the pets when food is scarce and survival depends on it. Or consider this:
In another example of the Egyptian's devotion to their cats, Herodotus relates that when a fire broke out in Egypt, the men would stand in a line to prevent harm to the cats, thinking more of that than extinguishing the fire.A possible clue into this strange behavior comes from the fact that we react to cats and dogs just as we do to children, including the tendency to indulge in "baby talk", which makes no sense at all. Could it be the case, then, is that it wasn't humans that evolved affection to pets, but rather that the furries evolved to imitate the behavior of human infants, in order to elicit feelings of affection?
It's a most intriguing hypothesis. If tested and proven true, it would mean that at the genetic level the cats know exactly what they are doing. To the extent that the lolcat phenomenon improves human treatment of cats and the cat family, it's a home run for the collective feline gene pool.