I'm reading a book about human interactions with animals. The author is troubled by human inconsistency about animals. If we're okay with fishmongers tossing fish around in the Pike Place Fish Market, he wonders, then why would we be horrified if they were throwing kittens?
If we love kittens and scratch them under their chins, how could we be okay with wearing fur? If we're troubled by cockfighting, how can we eat chickens brought up in much less humane conditions?
I think he's leaving one thing out of his consideration, so far.
We're not just dividing the world into flora and fauna. Nor, I think, are we dividing fauna into human and non-human. Research shows that people can develop emotional bonds to machines, including cars and robots and phones. We can also manage to be relatively indifferent to whole groups of fellow humans.
I think many of us also have a whole scale of creatures, like the Great Chain of Being. Humans are most important, and some of us — especially those we share genes with — are more important than others.
Creatures that live in our homes are next up. We don't eat our pets or make them into coats. Creatures that don't live in our homes are less important. Among these creatures, there are useful ones and cute ones, which are more important. And perhaps those that are rare or expensive are also pretty important.
After a bit there are the ones we eat. For me, that's really just fish (frozen rectangles, so I don't care what kind), chicken, pigs, and cows. I don't eat any other animals. Ever.
My husband is far more open minded.
Below the ones we eat are the ones we scorn to eat. Rats, bats, bugs… it depends where you grew up.
But why would anyone think that a cat is roughly the same as a mink, let alone a fish? The closest thing to a kitten is either a puppy or a baby. We don't eat or wear those things, or even throw them around. Ever.