How can you limit yourself to cats in a world full of strange creatures? Here’s a mammal I never even heard of before: it’s incredibly rare, it has a very limited range, it’s the lonely relic species (only two species, one in Spain and one in Russia, of its group left, all the rest are extinct) of a once diverse and successful tribe, and it’s really weird. It’s the Pyrenean Desman.
It’s a small aquatic mammal with a long snout fringed with sensitive whiskers, large hindlimbs with webbed feet, and small forelimbs; it lives in mountain streams in Spain and the Pyrenees, foraging for small crustaceans and snails in the muck. It’s a talpid, of the family of moles, but it’s uniquely adapted to swimming rather than digging.
It’s going extinct. Dams and development are destroying its habitat, and it seems to be particularly sensitive to pollution.
Wait, I say. Here is this exotic, obscure mammal with unique adaptations and its own special history, the product of a long, independent lineage of many tens of millions of years, and now, here in my brief lifetime, just as I learn about it, it looks like that novel genetic lineage will be shortly snuffed out, lost forever?
That seems to happen a lot around us humans. We need to learn to make room for our other partners on this planet.