Alright, I touched on this briefly recently when I commented on another blog, but I felt I should expand on my thoughts a bit, since it seems worth thinking about.
So we all know the laws of the medicine cats, the edicts they must live by along with the Warrior code, the biggest rule being the fact that they can never, ever have a mate or kits.
And on the surface, this rule makes perfect sense. Medicine cats are the religious figureheads of the Clans and the healers. They advise on the appointment of deputies and (sometimes) leaders. They cannot be biased in their actions in any way, as that could mean the wrong cat could be put in charge of a Clan or a cat could die while the medicine cat is busy fretting over his/her mate and kits even if they aren't the ones that need the most immediate help.
But, at the same time, I can see a big flaw here: bias exists no matter what you do. Just think about it. You spend (as a human) about 1/5 of your maximum lifespan un-married and without children, on average. But this doesn't stop you from having loved ones. You have siblings, parents, extended family members, close friends, et cetera. And this is true even for Clan cats. For instance, let's look at Leafpool's life (though I think she's a poor excuse for a medicine cat, at least at one point she was respectable):
- As an apprentice, Leafpaw kept a vital secret from her entire Clan for the sake of her sister, who she shared a strong bond with and would risk anything for.
- Leafpaw was also notably very close to Sorreltail.
- Leafpool remained very close to Squirrelflight as time went on, even taking time form her days to specifically try to glean signs about the fate of her sister or help Squirrelflight solve her tom-troubles.
- Leafpool showed higher levels of concern and emergency when her father, mother, or sister were in her den sick or injured (and later her hits).
- Leafpool advised Firestar to appoint her sister's mate as deputy of the Clan (even though she did not do this out of fondness for Brambleclaw, she was still accused of bias, proving the fact that medicine cats can act on bias even without a mate or kits)
- Leafpool, of course, developed a romantic interest, mated, and had kits.
- Leafpool chose one of her own kits to be her apprentice.
And that's just to name a few. Other medicine cats can also be accused of acting with bias. Brambleberry advised on the appointment of Crookedjaw as RiverClan's deputy, and the two had been notably close ever since Crookedjaw was a kit. Cinderpelt, through her (ahem) close friendship with Firestar, favoured him even before he was deputy or leader, often taking time from her duties to help him and not advising him against leaving the Clan to save SkyClan as any other sane medicine cat would do. Cinderpelt also sacrificed her own life to save her nieces and nephews as they were being born, though this is a task expected of any Clan cat, so I wouldn't count that even if a stronger emotional bond was there. Medicine cats are even allowed to have friendships outside of their Clan. Bias isn't just possible, it's unavoidable.
So the rule about not mating or having kits really doesn't make sense to me, especially for male medicine cats. Mudfur managed to be a medicine cat and a father perfectly fine, at least. The only way you could keep a medicine cat totally unbiased would be to pick only from cats that are orphaned or from outside the Clan (kittypets, loners, rogues, and the likes) and to keep them forbidden from making friends, constantly separate from the rest of the Clan and only seen when a cat is in need, when a sign is received, or when StarClan needs to be contacted.
While thinking on this subject, I almost started to think that maybe celibacy and by proxy purity is needed for a cat to contact StarClan, but from what we've seen the only thing that can stop you from being able to meet them is a disbelief in them, which also doesn't make sense since Rusty dreams of StarClan even before he knows what the Clans are and Mothwing and Cloudtail are able to see StarClan cats in The Last Hope. Leafpool, Yellowfang, and Mudfur were all non-celibate and were able to contact StarClan with no problems. Leafpool even contacted StarClan when she was no longer a medicine cat.
So what are your thoughts on this subject? Does the no-mating rule make any sense at all when bias is bound to happen anyway?