Last weekend we braved the snow to attend a cat show at the rec center. I don’t know what was more interesting: the homeschool lesson in breeding/genetics/diversity, or the peoplewatching. Cat show people are an interesting breed all by themselves.

Some creatures seem a bit overbred, to me.  I wonder, once natural selection is out of the picture and  people inbreed for odd physical attributes, what happens to intangibles like personality, emotional health, or intelligence. I am always a little disturbed by some pet shop varieties of rabbit, guinea pig, etc. that seem to have been bred to resemble stuffed toys and seem to be every bit as intelligent.

My favorite breeds of chicken are invariably the heirloom varieties: the ones that somehow missed the boat of mass production and factory farming. Unlike the inbred white egg chickens, brainless incubator-raised meat-with-feet, some rare varieties actually know how to sit on eggs and hatch them, teach babies to scratch for bugs and seeds and shoots, defend against predators, and retain some level of instinct.

My favorites at the cat show are the ones that look like they could hold their own in the forest.  Ocicats, abbysinians, maine coon cats. It’s hard to judge by the blow-dried divas at the show, being fed pureed turkey baby food with a spoon — but I suspect instinct survives in some breeds. Ya gotta respect that.

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