Why chase mice when there are fish to eat?

This is a Chinese university entrance exam question. The question is in the form of a cartoon:

Chinese exam question

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The answer has to be in an 800 character essay. Here goes… 😉

The fish are dead and don’t need catching. The cat at the end of the table sees the mouse scuttling along at the foot of the table. What would you do if millions of years of evolution had programmed you to chase prey and your favorite prey was a mouse?

It does not matter to a cat if his belly is full of fish. If he sees a mouse he will chase it. Perhaps in this instance the cat simply chases and catches the mouse but does not eat it. Although in the picture you can see that the only cat to have eaten the fish is the one at the other end of the table. I would suggest that the mouser eats the mouse that he has caught.

The moral is people must always be aware of the natural instincts, desires and motivators of other people and animals. In having that knowledge a person is able to integrate more successfully into society, become more successful in being able to motivate others, be more successful himself and live a fuller more contented life.

That is 770 characters..

Note: I have published the cartoon picture under fair use. I think it is very instructive to try and answer this question and the cartoon is the question so it must be shown on the page. It has no commercial value as far as I am aware.

19 thoughts on “Why chase mice when there are fish to eat?”

  1. lol I’d better start learning Chinese now for my post as lecturer lol lol
    I love your translations! How clever of you Michael!

  2. This is my answer in simplified Chinese:




  3. To cut a long story short,sorry it’s not 800 characters:

    The cat on the extreme left has eaten his fish and is well content with his meal and with his life, he won’t achieve much, he’s quite happy with his lot.

    The second cat is a bit indecisive, should he listen to the third cat, or should he eat the fish he hasn’t touched yet.

    The third cat is lazy, he can’t be bothered to catch his own food and he mocks the cat who does, he will eat his fish in his own good time.

    The fourth cat seizes the moment, he sees an opportunity and takes it, he will catch and eat the mouse because he knows it’s much better for him and more satisfying with being freshly caught.
    He would be the one to do best at the university and the one most likely to get the place if there was only one.

    • Superb alternative answer. What I like is that is it very different to mine and really nice.

      A place will be kept open for you at Beijing University for the forthcoming year. Only you won’t be a student but a lecturer on the animal welfare course specialising in cat caretaking.

      Welcome to Beijing Kattaddorra…


    • Here is your answer in simplified Chinese. Just in case the Chinese see it:






    • Hi Ruth aka Kattaddorra,

      Perfect. I agree 100%.

      So, the last cat is like a typical American…*cough*…okay, perhaps British entrepreneur who is thinking on his/her own and maybe even outside the box.

      They are not trying to blend in. They will excel in the confines of any country. They are not mainstream and they own their own mind.

      As an aside, this person reminds me of me and my husband (even more so).

      I can’t help but to admire someone who is like me. I’ve put a lot of focus on being my own person, especially taking pride in how I contrast the main stream.

      I know for a fact that you and the other regulars can relate but please correct me if I am mistaken. That’s just the impression that I am under after reading and interacting on Michael’s blog for a few months.

      Extremely well done, Ruth.

      =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

        • Hi Michael,

          It’s clear that many of us are kindred spirits in a very good and unusual way.

          =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

          • Absolutely, kindred spirits. You know what we should do…meet up somewhere one day. I think we would have a great few days together. Perhaps we should work on that?

      • Thank you Hairles Cat Girl, my sister and I are considered oddities by some because we are cat loving vegetarians who live together with our cats, we chose to do this when Barbara was widowed as we are very like minded. We don’t use anything tested on animals, we don’t preach but we do try to educate and some people don’t like that, they would rather not know about animal abuse.
        Like you we contrast the main stream and people either love us, hate us, or ignore us lol

    • Yes, the wild cats prefer mammals. Although there are two wild cat species, the fishing cat and the flat-headed cat who specialise in catching and eating fish so it is not clear cut. But mouse is preferred to fish in general.

      In fact eating raw fish all the time would create a health problem for the cat. See:

      Is Fish Bad For Cats

      • I’m in. I had better starting learning Chinese. Funnily enough I have been to China in the late 1970s. It was completely different then. Chinese people wore blue or khaki boiler suits over their own colorful clothes. It was post Mao, strict communism. The amount of polluted dust in Beijing was horrendous. It had the highest throat cancer rates in the world at the time.

  4. Wow that’s an incredibly open question. Is it part of any particular subject? Philosophy? Biology? Animal Science? Social Studies? Given how it could go any which way I like your answer because it sort of touches on it from many angles starting with hard science and finishing with philosophy. Notice the cat who has eaten the fish is the only one who is happy – clearly. The two in the middle ask the question – are on the fence maybe, or not actually by the sound of the question which seems almost rhetorical. Could be greed in there – mouse and fish. Or variety is the spice of life so a bit of both. Because fish don’t have taurine?

    ….well 10 points for random and 10 points for a good try at an answer 🙂

    • Thanks. I couldn’t resist. I did it as a stream of consciousness and on the run. It is the best way I think for this sort of question. The question is massively open as you say and that is why it is testing. I chose to put a bit of layperson philosophy at the end because I think the examiners are looking for something like that but who knows.

      You are right. The cat who has eaten the fish looks content but so does the cat catching the mouse…There are so many different ways to answer the question. You should try 🙂

      Do you think I’d get into university in China 😉


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