When I make a list of my roles in life, I include “cat owner,” and “former horse owner.” These labels do, though, give me a stomachache if I look at them from the other side, so to speak. Neither cat nor horse understand ownership. The cat knows whom to complain to if the kibble level is too low in the bowl. He might howl his dislike of a cruddy litter box, and he does claim temporary ownership of a warm lap or patch of sun. When I owned a horse, he trusted me to be reasonable when I asked him to carry me, but he needed no knowledge of the documents that made clear who paid for his grain and hay and farrier visits. His trust in me had nothing to do with a bill of sale. Paper? He ignored it unless a breeze tossed one into our path.

Recently we have added to our household a third dog, a Corgi puppy whose knowledge of ownership has to do with who gets treats and the crunchies that he defends against the other two dogs. Ownership for Tucker is based on speed to the food bowl or to a tossed handful of Cheerios. He has no concept of why he left is mother and brother, was zipped into a carrier and stuffed under a seat on an airplane. Fortunately, he seems to like us, and we do, of course, like him. Who could not? Well, the cat, a rescue who appreciates a safe landing when he leaps to the back of the sofa if the pup gets too rough.

 Meanwhile, human beings, supposedly a higher entity, rather than sharing the kibbles, kill each other over invisible boundaries and documents that lead to ownership instead of caring and tolerance. If my cat ruled the world, we would all be better off.

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