Because of the harsh nature of the lives clan cats live they have been forced to adopt a harsh approach to disability. Because of that I have resurrected an essay I wrote for CoSC on 26 August 2006. I have taken the time to update it and ensure that everything is up to date with the current CoSC approach and modern examples from our In Character world and added some notes on Medicine Cats with disabilities. If you have suggestions and ideas for ways to improve or clarify this essay, please drop Kitsufox a PM and let her know about your idea.
FACT: The cats world is not equal opportunity.
A disability makes you a liability.
I’m sure that those of you unfamiliar with the CoSC approch to the Warriors World are going “Brightheart came out of the Elder’s Den and regained her Warriors Status despite a Disability!”. While on the surface that event might be taken to support the idea that disabilities are something a cat can compensate for if you look deeper you see that Brightheart is a poor example of a ‘Disabled’ cat. A series of questions must be asked in regards to Brightheart’s situation.
- What was Brightheart’s disability?: Half-blindness.
- What challenges does this disability create?: Decreased visual radius and loss of depth perception.
- How were these challenges overcome?: Decreased visual range remains a limitation. Depth perception challenges were overcome through diligent practice and re-training.
- How did the Leader’s Personality effect the situation?: Firestar is historically a very soft cat who is has a history of putting the desires of one cat above the good of the clan.
When we look at this list of facts we are then able to draw a number of conclusions. The first thing to consider is the severity of the disability. Half-blindness is not something that should be considered a particularly debilitating condition. On the whole an animal with the conviction to re-learn the way her reach looks and ensuring that a buddy can stand on the blindside to limit the liability that causes. While definitely something that makes a cat less useful on border patrols (as they can’t watch all sides) their hunting ability would only be slightly effected after retraining.
With our dismissal of Brightheart as a suitable cat to use for an example in this discussion completed, the time has come to return to the phrase “A disability makes you a liability”. It’s the sort of phrase that is, by human standards, extremely insensitive. However, when the world our characters live in is taken into account the truth of the statement in context becomes apparent. We’ll start with the basic physical capabilities that a warrior must possess.
- Moving (for Running, Jumping & Stalking)
- Seeing (for Spotting, Tracking, & Watching)
- Hearing (for Listening, Learning, & Tracking)
- Speaking (for Alerting, Reporting & Interacting)
As a general rule a character who cannot perform all of these basics to at least 70% capability on be actively considering the effect their inability will have on the cats on patrol with them. The next phase is to individual consider the dangers of each of the item on the above list.
Movement is involved in both hunting and fighting. The activities of hunting and fighting are all consuming for a warrior. A cat who cannot move well is a poor hunter and fighter. They would even be a danger to the rest of their patrol when their retreat was slowed by their condition.
Movement impaired Warriors are a huge liability.
Movement impaired Medicine Cats are less of a liability, but the dangers of slow arrival to critical patients should be considered.
Sight is an essential part of survival in wild places and in clan life. A visually impaired cat lacks the ability to accurately see and pursue prey. They lack the ability to see the enemy move in a fight. They would even need assistance to keep track of kits in the nursery.
Visually impaired Warriors have no place amongst fit and fighting cats. They cannot fulfill the basic requirements of being a Warrior.
Visually impaired Medicine Cats lack the ability to assess wounds, symptoms, or herb quality. They’re very dangerous.
Hearing is an essential element of communication. In accordance cats without the ability to hear lack the ability to be communicated with effectively. They are unable to receive warnings, instructions, and teachings from other cats. They are unable to track prey or enemy through sound.
Hearing impaired Warriors cannot be effective warriors due to inability to receive orders, warnings, or lessons.
Hearing impaired Medicine Cats cannot be effective due to their inability to receive oral lessons or information from patients.
Normally related to deafness (due to the cat not learning to communicate verbally), though sometimes originating from an injury to the voice box, mute cats are unable to provide reports, warnings or lessons to other cats. They cannot speak and thus cannot interact well with other cats.
Mute Warriors are ineffective warriors due to the inability to make reports or warn others in the patrol of enemies.
Mute Medicine Cats are ineffective due to their inability to give instructions to patients or lessons to their apprentices.
Returning to the case we sighted at the beginning of this essay, we need to think a bit more of Brightheart and how she factors in to what has been discussed now. While suffering a physical challenge, it is hard to call her truly disabled. She’s still capable of seeing out of her remaining eye, and the difficulties presented by the damaged one are limited and (at least one of the two major symptoms) is something that can be overcome through training.
When the warriors world is considered one has to remember that the good of a single cat can never be placed before the good of an entire clan (though individual leaders will have to take each case into consideration on an IC basis, and make choices based on what that individual cat considers ‘the good of the clan’). This means that making one cat happy by letting them stay a warrior is less desirable than putting them in the Elder’s den where they cannot endanger the lives of their comrades.
It should be remembered, however, that being an elder or being in possession of a disability does not make a cat useless to their clan here at CoSC. To end the article I’ll present a list of IC cats with disabilities here.
- List to be added.