It is with great difficulty that we survey the melancholy state of affairs in this new millennium. Despite our unprecedented abundance, and even cultural excess, we still have those who suffer needlessly in their day-to-day lives. Disease and political violence have become central issues in the halls of our great governmental organizations, but hunger continues to be one of the most unheralded challenges to the progress of human civilization.
According to the latest statistics, malnutrition affects 925 million people on this planet. In addition, “32.5 percent of children in developing countries are underfed–one of three. Geographically, more than 70 percent of malnourished children live in Asia, 26 percent in Africa and 4 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. In many cases, their plight began even before birth with a malnourished mother. Under-nutrition among pregnant women in developing countries leads to 1 out of 6 infants born with low birth weight. This is not only a risk factor for neonatal deaths, but also causes learning disabilities, mental, retardation, poor health, blindness and premature death.”
While this problem is particularly acute in the Third World, it is also a great shame here at home. Our rural poor compete against those in inner city ghettoes for the ignominious title of most underprivileged. With all the technology and ingenuity at our disposal, the United States has utterly failed to come up with an answer to this incredible dilemma.
Many blame overpopulation for this crisis but we should acknowledge that the corruption of dictatorships in places like Africa is another contributing factor. Christian aid charities have worked relentlessly to feed the needy but they are simply overwhelmed. In other cases, the systems of distribution have failed. This is due to the expense of transportation, the mechanical requirements of refrigeration, the seasonal limitations of crop growth and so on.
In colonial America, lobster was considered a disagreeable foodstuff. Only slaves enjoyed this crustacean. Now it is one of the most expensive items on any menu. Squirrels and possum have been popular elements in Southern cuisine for some time while in Northern cities they are considered abominable. In many parts of the word and in many periods throughout history, human beings have eaten animals and insects that most would never contemplate. Bats, camels, guinea pigs, bears, whales, locusts, grasshoppers and even horse are delicacies to countless peoples.
Today, there is another taboo that needs to be addressed. Cat meat has been consumed on every inhabited continent on this planet. The Swedes enjoy it in a stew, as do the indigenous people of Australia. In Peru, they make tamales while in China and Korea it is turned into meatballs and soup. Spiritually, the Bible issues no condemnation of feline consumption. Genesis 9:3 tells us of God’s commandment, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”
Could cat meat possibly be the answer to the world’s malnourishment? There are many strong arguments in its favor. The animals themselves thrive in every environment in every nation, no matter how hot or cold, how dry or wet. They reproduce quickly and easily. There is an overpopulation of these creatures and veterinary scientists have woefully stumbled in their efforts to keep numbers in check. They are easily domesticated and docile. One needs little space to maintain a herd of cats.
Cats have what is called an estrous reproduction cycle, which means they can produce several litters over the course of their 6-month breeding season. One entire estrous cycle or “heat” lasts roughly from 18 to 24 days. Pregnancy normally lasts 66 days and produces between 3 and 10 offspring. These kittens reach sexual maturity within a year. Cats grow to about 8 to 15 pounds in full adulthood. They have a 10% bone to meat ratio. Discounting the 1 to 1½ pounds of head and tail, they average about between 6 and 12 pounds of consumable meat per animal. In essence, a single cat can produce about 130 pounds of consumable meat per year.
The meat itself is light and similar in taste to rabbit. In fact, cat meat was often substituted for rabbit in medieval Europe. Others compare it to lamb for its tender, subtle flavor. It has a fine texture and high digestibility. The firmness of the meat makes it especially adaptable to all types of ethnic cuisines. It can be plain or heavily garnished. It can be used in stews and soups, as stock or eaten as a meat staple. As for its dietary properties, this food is high in protein, but low in calories, cholesterol and saturated fats. Health-wise, it is good for heart disease patients, newborns and the elderly.
On a federal level, consuming cat meat is not illegal (although some states have taken measures to restrict it). Popular cuts include quarters, drumsticks, ribs, sausages and salami. It can also be prepared as a whole spit roast. One successful purveyor in the United States offers such specialties as whole fish fed cat, meat fed cat and chicken fed cat. Clearly there is an interest in this foodstuff and its health benefits are accepted by accredited nutritionists.
The obvious advantage of feline meat is that it can be cultivated in any environment close to those who consume it. One need not have it driven or flown over long distances. The corrupt practices of businesses and governments are thus avoided. As mentioned previously, it is inexpensive even for those in dire poverty. Cats themselves eat what humans do not– from small bony birds to snakes, mice and insects. They also thrive on refuse, such as fish bones and the like. This contributes to the recycling of what would otherwise be viewed as waste. From mountain regions to arid plains, from traditional societies to crowded inner cities, cat meat is a plentiful food source that crosses all borders.
I realize this proposal may strike some as odd and I welcome any mature alternatives that others can suggest. Countless theoreticians have wearied over human malnourishment for years, offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, but who has actually devised a constructive solution? The stigma of cat meat consumption is something the world will simply need to overcome as global food shortages reach a critical level. There is hope, however, that as a culture we can break down these barriers. In many ways, this is also a humane resolution for the felines themselves, since they are considered pestilence and vermin by many and treated as such. As a nation of people who have always striven to overcome adversity, we can lead the way in solving the hunger problem. Cat meat may very well be the great answer we have been searching for.