Consider the (Feral) Cat: Ferality, Biopower, and the Ethics of Predation

In: Society & Animals
Nicholas Holm English and Media Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Massey University Wellington New Zealand

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Cats confound clear distinctions: not least that between the human and natural worlds. As a consequence, they are prime examples of “ferality”: a category of nonhuman subjects who are neither domestic, nor wild, but instead move between those realms. It is argued that that potential for movement informs particular social anxieties and debates that emerge regarding cat hunting behaviors. Drawing on the biopolitical work of Michel Foucault, in conjunction with the ethical paradox of the “predator problem,” it is argued that the ethical indictment of cat predation is best understood as a consequence of cats’ abilities to move across the different regulatory and ethical spaces of the home and the wild. Ferality thus functions as a means by which human ethics are brought to bear on nonhuman nature, and predation is thereby framed as an unnecessary, “unnatural,” and even evil act.

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