Last week I had to take our family cat for its boosters. The annual trip to the Vet made me question why we spend money to fix something over just writing it off. To clarify, by a write off I mean "not economically viable to fix". Don't panic, the cat's still here and happy. But for how long? Just kidding...
On having his annual examination, I'm informed "Your cat has gingivitis". So my cat is damaged and in need of maintenance. A blizzard of words and information hit me. But to summarise.... "It could be caused by A, B. or perhaps C. To know for sure we can do 1. 2. or 3. It will cost $225, $500, $750". The expectant bill of $75 was now escalating in front of my very (dazed) eyes.
As a responsible cat owner of an adorable loving bundle of fur, it seemed expected that I wouldn't even question the $750 to make my cat tickety boo. And should be very excited to hear about an insurance policy for $425 that would do it. Bargain. All systems go.
But hold on a minute.
My head imploded as the Vet looked my way with grave concerns for the cat and for a reaction from me. Thankfully I kept my reaction to myself. I dare not point out the brutal fact that "It's a cat" and he only cost $90 to buy. Now, a year later, he was technically a write off. I just made my excuses, he got his jabs and we made a sharp "we'll think about it" exit.
I began to question myself, other cat owners, pet owners and us as a society. How on earth have we got to this point? Deep philosophical questions popped up. How is it accepted that we pay $750 to fix a cats teeth, when there are people in the world with no access to healthcare, let along dental care. Or even food, a basic human need. Deep. I know. Let's stop that one there.
But it also raised a more palatable and relevant conundrum. Why is it perfectly acceptable, or even expected, to pay $750 to repair something that cost $90 in one instance and not in another. It certainly doesn't make economic sense. What is it that makes us accept it and do it? What makes us decide not too? After reading on greenvillages.com.au how much furniture is thrown away every single year, I began to ask what's the difference between a cat and a couch.
Furniture waste is a major and growing issue. A 24kg per household per year issue in Sydney. Why and how has it become acceptable to write off furniture and discard it? If you bought a couch for $90, would you spend $750 on having it fixed up when it got a bit tatty? If you bought a Cat for $90, would you spend $750 on having it fixed up to be made purrrrrrrrrrrfect? (Sorry)
I know it's a crazy comparison to push. But until you challenge such concepts, and yourself, you never really get to the source of the issue.
So what is the difference between a Cat and a Couch? Sidelining the fact that one is a living thing, essentially it comes down to Connection and where this connection is within you. Your heart. Or your head. And what the source of the connection is.
The source could be an emotion, how you feel about it, or how it makes you feel. You might love it, like it or not be that bothered about it. It could make you happy, relaxed, mindful or even sad.
Attachment is another source. It could hold a story that you like to revisit. It could signify something about you, or within you. It could be a treasure handed down through generations and with it a connected responsibility to ensure it's safe passage onwards.
How we purchase furniture and home wares has changed drastically over the last century. As has the shift between function and form. A century ago it was about function, that balance shifted mid century to form and function, but now the balance has moved over even further with it heavily focussed on aesthetics. With so many websites, magazines and TV shows all showcasing 'this style', "latest trend' and 'that look', the vast majority of purchasing decisions are based on looks and how it fits in with what we have and what we're trying to achieve. To readdress this shift I think we need to introduce another design concept, feel. So we have Function, Form and Feel.
I love my home. I love it because it's comfortable, it's used, it shows wear, age and life. I have pieces that are "me nan's" and others that my dad made when he was a kid, along side others that remind me of places I have been to and people I have met. There's a claw shaped rock hanging on the wall that caused a flat in the middle of the desert and with it some very, very, very, important life skills. That's the beauty of buying / acquiring pieces for the long term, they hold secret messages and look better with age. But they will only age if you let them. And repair them when they need it. My home is full of emotion and attachment, with pieces having very little value. But they mean everything to me. The cat included. So cat teeth cleaning, scale and polish it is.
No cat was harmed in the writing of this blog.