Why The Cat Washes After Meals

Blog 1862 – 10.29.2020

Why The Cat Washes After Meals


Why The Cat Washes After Meals

I met a man once who washed his hands before using the restroom and not afterwards as most folks do. After observing this curious habit for several days I asked him why. He replied that he kept his body clean and wanted to be sure his hands were clean before he touched himself. It made sense to me at least for him. We do not have to adopt other’s customs to see that other ways of doing things may also make sense.

We often attach a great deal of meaning to our customary habits without knowing why we really do the things we do. The two pan meat loaf and ducking when there was no longer any need to duck are just two examples that come to mind.

The two pan meat loaf story is of a young husband asking his young wife why she always made meat loaf in two pans, one larger pan and another half it’s size. She said it was because that was the way her mother had always done it. He asked her again, “Why?” Next time she saw her mother she asked her, thinking she would hear a long and meaningful explanation, but Mom’s explanation was short and simple really. She said she always made meat loaf in two pans because she did not have one pan that was big enough for the amount of meatloaf that she wanted to make. So the daughter bought them both bigger pans, ending one family tradition that not longer made sense to her.

The why are those folks ducking story comes from an observation that an outside business evaluation team made while doing surveillance at a manufacturing company. After several days of observing workers at a plant performing their jobs they noticed that every time employees would walk down a particular aisle between equipment that at a certain place they would duck their heads down for no apparent reason. When asked why, most of the employees could give no reason. Finally they asked one of the older employees and learned the root cause of this anomaly. It seemed that over twenty years ago the plant was redesigned a bit and a low hanging pipe with a sign on both sides that read “Duck” had been removed from across the aisle, but the habit was already so ingrained that the workers continuing ducking when there was no longer any need and new employees just followed their example without every stopping to asking. “Why?”

Children’s favorite question is “Why?” But parents frustrated by a barrage of why questions and probably embarrassed too at often not knowing how to answer many of those questions, just say, “Stop asking why” till we do, and that is a sad thing and though curiosity may have killed the cat as adults say, it is far more true that our brains begin to atrophy the moment we stop asking why and begin acting if we know all the answers. We do not, none of us, nor can we, but we can at any age ask why and learn a thing or two that we do not already know, like why cats wash before meals and not afterwards. There is a reason why for everything. Never stop asking.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White


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