After first sticking his back leg in my tea and then kicking it all over me, Louis Catorze settled down with me to watch one of those maximum security prison documentaries. (We’re more low-brow than one would imagine – it’s not all Balzac and Baudelaire here at Le Château.) And it seems that, in Indiana State maximum security prison, they have a cat adoption scheme.
I initially had mixed feelings about the idea. My first thought was the safety of the animals: if you’ve killed a human in cold blood and are quite casual and blasé about it, you’re unlikely to have much compassion or empathy for an animal, right? But the cats look happy, glossy and well-fed, pitter-pattering freely between cells but mainly sticking to their one Cat Daddy, whom they clearly love. Even if he happens to be a serial torturer or murderer.
My second thought: if you’ve killed a human in cold blood and are quite casual and blasé about it, you don’t deserve the pleasure of a cute cat for company. Whilst I don’t think prison conditions ought to be made utterly horrendous just for the sake of it, I don’t think we should fall over ourselves to make them fun, either. However, given the hugely unbalanced ratio of inmates to staff, and given the high pressure nature of working conditions even when things AREN’T kicking off, wouldn’t it be worth a go? If a cat can lower an inmate’s stress levels, reducing the chances of violence, it would make life easier for staff and keep them safe.
I think Louis Catorze would LOVE to be a prison cat, with all those men to play with. And if anyone did anything really, really bad, he would be a most excellent deterrent. The prospect of a week’s solitary confinement with him, having to endure the screaming as well as being forced to pill him, would, surely, be enough to make even the most hardened troublemaker keep his head down and do as he’s told?
Cat Daddy: “Welcome to my world. Except it’s a life sentence without chance of parole, not just a week in solitary.”
Thank you, Jane, for the photo!