It’s an age old stereotype that cats and dogs don’t get along. Cats are thought to be cunning and conniving animals relying on sneaking and their small size to get away from the faster and more vicious dogs. But what if one of the animals were to help another of a different species simply out of the innate goodness of its nature?
In 2006 the story of Libby and Cashew first started being circulated to various news outlets. The nation quickly fell in love with the mysterious bond shared between a cat and dog. Libby was a yellow lab that had been blind and deaf for many years. Normally a dog such as this would have an incredibly difficult time moving around, finding food, and avoiding obstacles but it had a faithful companion known as Cashew. Cashew is an orange tabby cat that somehow has taken it upon herself to guide Libby around through the sense of touch. The story suggests an uncanny affinity and mutual understanding once thought impossible to develop out of the blue in animals.
Normally cats are thought to be distant, self centered, uninterested, undisciplined, and certainly afraid of dogs. But the partnership between Libby and Cashew has more or less destroyed those stereotypes in favor of a new narrative on which to build our new perception of animal interdependence. Why would Cashew commit herself so loyally to Libby? How would a cat, which allegedly has no understanding of the complexity of Libby’s situation let alone the ethical considerations of things such as compassion suddenly understand how to help an old and ailing friend?
The story was originally submitted to the Reader’s Digest by a reader from Pennsylvania by the name of Terry Burns. but since that time the cat has become a symbol of the secret intelligence shared by what seems to be an incredibly high number of animals. But is Cashew a one time occurrence? Or are there examples every day of animals showing emotional abilities far beyond what would normally be deemed possible?
Seeing eye dogs are a commonly cited example of how animals can bond with humans in order to care for them. The power of guidance shown by seeing eye dogs is often used as an example exemplifying the giving nature of these gentle creatures. But even this heroic act comes at least partially as a result of their intense training. And yet without training animals have put their own lives at risk to save one another and humans – even complete strangers.
Aristotle, while making the argument for good and evil used the example of a human who risks his own life to save the lives of others as an arguably good act. So if animals do the same, in Aristotles logic are they then committing acts of good? Perhaps the acts of one cat will forever turn the concepts of good and evil on their head in suggesting that they are not purely human traits.