Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Relationship with Cats

There are many millions of people who tenderly love and care for the domestic cats with which they live. There are many millions who are concerned about the wildcats. But there are not enough. Today I was shocked by a submission to the main website (www.pictures-of-cats.org) by a person who said she (or he, not sure) loved cats but poisoned them because her neighbours were irresponsible in letting them stray. And these stray cats upset her by defecating and urinating around her home. She also said that they bring fleas and "other insects". What she was doing or what she said she was doing was quite possibly a felony in her state of New York.

The person was arrogant and ignorant enough to state her views and actions on the internet on a site that gets a lot of hits. Beware doing such things as it can backfire. It does show us the level of "out of reality" lives some people live. The person's arguments were totally lacking in sound thought. And upon this ignorance, cats were, on the face of it, being cruelly killed - quite mindless and idiotic but an example of behaviour not that uncommonly seen.

I know that for many people who are not that fond of cats, feral or stray cats can be a nuisance. But the only way to deal with this is to deal with the owners. And as to the feral cats that can only mean being dealt with by trap, neuter return and plenty of investment in time and effort. There is no other way. Our relationship with cats can be quite fraught. And our relationship with cats is certainly very polarised. What I mean is that people have very widely held views, which makes a coordinated approach impossible.

Take feral cats again. There is the beginnings of a new direction in how to deal with feral cats at the governmental level in the potential city ordinance (laws) of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. Beverly Hills could be the beginning of change and a proper approach to dealing with feral cats. Millions are killed each year. Some go into cat food - yes it's true. And one comment on a YouTube video about how some feral cats or unwanted domestic cats were turned into cat food, said that is was a good idea. Maybe you do too. But it cannot be right. It is not the way things were meant to have turned out when the wild cat was first domesticated. We thought that our relationship with cats would be beneficial to both cat and human. Now that "dream" has turned sour.

If feral cats are generally badly treated (and they are only surviving like you and me) then the domestic cat can have it pretty hard too. People in the USA have created a country where the domestic cat has to be kept in permanently. How odd and unnatural is that? And an unlikely and horrendous spin off from that (and I believe a contributory factor) is that 20% or about 20 million domestic cats in the USA are declawed. This is a crime in many European countries. America is a decent and good country with good and decent people, so what happened on this one? Something went badly wrong and I say it is largely to do with commerce and the veterinarians who encourage non-therapeutic declawing, a truly unethical process of great cruelty.

That said many people in the USA will say that declawing is OK and that they love cats. I just think that they don't understand and that misunderstanding comes from the people who do understand but hide behind euphemisms and denial, the veterinarians.

Our relationship with cats works brilliantly when we love our cat and let our cat be his or herself. When we accept out cat as he or she is. Is that so hard? If we can't do that it's OK. Just don't keep a cat. Is that so hard? If we wan companionship from a cat we should respect the cat. Declawing is highly disrespectful and much worse. See AVMA policy on declawing cats.

As to the wildcats, for me it is more sadness. Once again a different form of business is destroying the cat, businesses like the timber business destroying forest and the habitat of forest dwelling cats (African golden cat, Sumatran tiger and Clouded leopard to name three - there are many more). If it is not timber it is farming or some other business. Sure we have a right to make a living but it is time we did it in a way that doesn't destroy the planet. Is that so hard?

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