Cat Abuse and the Modern Siamese Cat

This is a slightly provocative post. It is deliberately so. There is probably or possibly a link between cat abuse and the modern Siamese cat (and the Persian cat). The modern Siamese cat, as I have called it, is the super slender, cat with the exaggeratedly elongated face and giant ears that is far removed from the original.

The reason why this cat breed exists is because a lot people like it. That has to be the reason because these people created it through selective breeding. The whole process was extremely purposeful. It took a lot of effort and a long time; about 40 years of selective breeding. The breeding of this cat is not cat abuse although people with more extreme views than mine might be inclined to call it that.

We know what cat abuse is. There is quite a lot of it about. The cat gets a raw deal. It seems to be a ready made target for people who want to vent their anger. Often there is a connection between animal abuse and human abuse. One leads to the other.

However, perhaps a more disconcerting fact is that studies on animal abuse indicate that “Mr. Average”, the “normal person” and your respected neighbour can be an animal abuser who sees nothing abnormal in harming his cat.

This is a very important aspect of animal abuse. Animal abuse has many forms. It is not just about assaulting and hurting animals. Simply keeping a cat in a sterile environment like a basement or a garage for his or her entire life is a form of animal abuse. Declawing cats is another form of animal abuse which remarkably is condoned by American society including professional people. A lot of people abuse their cats in relatively mild ways without even realising it.

If some apparently normal people fail to see anything wrong in various aspects of animal abuse something fundamental is wrong. What is it? Well I think the underlying cause behind both the overbreeding of the Siamese cat and pure animal abuse is the same. The source of the problem is that the world is human-centered and the animal is controlled by humans, domestication being the obvious example of human control over animals.

The argument is that before humans domesticated animals and became farmers, they were hunters. As hunters they had respect for the animal they hunted. Perhaps one of the key elements of people’s relationship with animals before they became farmers is that the person and animal were more equal. The hunter had to meet the animal on the animal’s terms and in the place where the animal lived. Those circumstances demanded that the person respected the animal.

Now in the modern world, the cat, for example, lives in an environment of the human’s making. The full-time indoor cat is the embodiment of this total control over the domesticated animal. Where there is that level of control the human opens himself up to tapping into his weaknesses one of which is the abuse of creatures more vulnerable than himself. I think this is a form of the well known phrase, “absolute power corrupts absolutely“. Or the fact that power tends to corrupt people’s morals. Our absolute power over the cat can lead to corrupted behavior.  For creationists (people who believe God created the world), overbreeding the Siamese cat is a akin to behaving like the creator because the breeder creates a new animal never seen before and which is to their liking. They believe they are improving on what God already created.


My thanks to P.L. Bernstein one of the authors of The Welfare of Cats.

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Comments

Cat Abuse and the Modern Siamese Cat — 8 Comments

  1. I think there are two kinds of abuse of cats, one is deliberate cruelty, the other is ignorance, with various scales of abuse in between those two extremes.
    Deliberate cruelty, hurting or killing a cat, can not be excused, I call declawing deliberate cruelty too, vets knowingly harm cats by doing this surgery.
    Ignorance can be excused even though those of us who took the trouble to learn about cats needs and love cats as they are, wonder why people not of the same mind have a cat as a pet.
    To those of us too who truly love and accept cats as they are, overbreeding cats to make new breeds like the modern Siamese and flat faced Persians, seems wrong.
    The trouble is that many people don’t see cats as living beings with the right to live a cat’s life, they see them as possessions they own with the right to rule their lives and do anything they want to with them.
    In my opinion no one can improve what Nature created because cats have been perfect since time began.

    • That is it Ruth. If people do see cats as possessions (which they do) it is sign that the problem is about control and domination over animals that has corrupted humankind. I think humankind basically respects animals but in becoming so called more civilised humankind has taken a wrong turn and learned to disrespect animals.

  2. Selective breeding isn’t done to improve upon what God has made, it’s done in order to be God. I don’t think it’s far out in left field to say that selective breeding for physical characteristics alone, without a thought for the health of the animal produced is wrong. It’s sinful, because it goes back to the first sin, the desire to be like God. Sorry, but neither God nor mother nature gave us the poodle. Or cats and dogs with flat faces who have breathing problems. We breed animals from such a small gene pool that problems are unavoidable, but if you increase the gene pool they aren’t pure bred anymore, so we don’t like that. How stupid. Did we learn nothing from the “blue bloods” of years ago– humans did the same thing to themselves, restricting gene pools in order to maintain noble blood lines, and a lot of them were born with hemophilia, hence the coining of the term. With all we know about genetics today, there is no excuse for the human race to continue to selectively breed animals for appearance only. We have no right to do that to animals simply because we like the way they look. There’s a reason your basic random bred cat is usually tougher and more resilient than the pure bred animals. My aunt bred dogs, I have friends who still do this, and I used to think pure bred animals were really cool. I grew up. It’s time for the human race to grow up and use our increased knowledge of genetics to help animals, not continue to treat them like playthings. But we won’t learn anything, and the more knowledge we gain the less we have any wisdom. We don’t put our knowledge to good use. When we learn that something we are doing is causing harm, we get even more stubbornly convinced that we should keep on doing it.

    • Well said Ruth!
      It’s time humans learned we are NOT God and that we do NOT own animals to do as we wish with them, we are merely their caretakers and many of us are letting them down very badly.

  3. I totally agree with everyone. The world we live in seems to be often times too much centered around culture and what humans want. It’s as though culture takes on this righteous notion that nature is there for its use and control and purposes. The truth of the matter is that culture is an untamed self detructive force of nature. Humans are no longer in touch with their own true nature. So it is also alot to do with ignorance. As Ruth said in the first comment, there is the intentional and the ignorant and the ignorant is a very big and serious part of whats going on. Its so overwhelming to see cats being abused by people who dont even understand or know they are causing the abuse. Alot of people say ‘it’s just a cat’ – that hugely bothers me. And in the end, Michael is right in that overbreeding to satisfy peoples desires for aesthetics is nothing short of abuse in of itself. Its exactly the same thing fundementally as many other more obvious forms of abuse. Its quietly diguised by the long process of selective breeding and peoples understanding of the norm without the perspective of how things were. Persians too. The tears and snub noses – I find it so hard to find it cute and yet so many do without question. I see a cat who has trouble being a normal cat basically and thats awfully sad to me.

  4. Unpopular opinion time.

    I own a cat, have for more than fifteen years. My mum picked him up when he was a kitten and even then he was awfully mean. Damn adorable, make no doubt, but he was truly vicious. At the time I was a little over seven or eight when the idea was struck that we should get a kitty, I stayed home all day with no siblings to play with after school and no friends to talk to. We lived in a bad neighbourhood and I didn’t get along well with our questionable neighbours either. In any case, I was in luck. My mother decided it’s about time we get a pet, she was given a kitten that had been abandoned by its mother and he was beautiful and ours.

    He hated me, in fact I clearly recall days where I would be silently reading and he would run up behind me and bite the back of my head before running away. I swore and cried and told my mum and she would scold him and put him in the bathroom for a time out for thirty minutes or so. Ten minutes later he does the same thing. Then one day I was taking a bath and our psychotic neighbour lost her shite and started screaming in the courtyard and slammed her door shut hard enough to make every window in the area rattle. Ice (our cat’s name) got so scared he ripped six lines open in my stomach and back. I (luckily) didn’t require stitches but my mum came to a decision:
    >My child’s safety.
    >This damn cat’s longevity in this house hold.
    >Our furniture and every paper object in this entire house.

    One of these things would have to go. So the baby lost his front claws. Mind you the only thing that changed was from ripping to biting and now he couldn’t tear open the furniture or my flesh (much), but he was an indoor cat and a choice had to be made. Even though he was still a bloody pain every single day, we’d never once discussed getting rid of him. Why? He was our kid, our baby. He wasn’t going to go outside in that city area. Any cat owner knows that’s the stupidest idea to ever be considered. After Ice was de-clawed he wasn’t going to be able to defend himself either so he had an entire household to himself and two humans to obey his every order.

    And if any of you begin harping about “inhumane” and “he’s obvz depressed blah blah blah” you are delusional. We opened the door once and left it open long enough for him to slip outside. When we realised he had left it had only been five minutes. He had begun pawing at the door trying to get us to open it back up for him. He has it made here and he knows it. We had a house fire and the first thing we did was grab him. That’s not neglect, we don’t abuse our cat because we chose to de-claw him, that’s called making a choice that’s best for all involved. Claws are used to protect oneself and to attack prey. What prey is there for a house cat? He, excuse my language, fucked up the only mouse that ever got in our house for lulz and left it at the bedroom door for us to see and that was when he was ten, long after his clawlessness. If you’re calling it oppression because he doesn’t get out and exercise I can guarantee that not all cats are social. He’s named Ice for a reason and it’s not his sunny disposition, apart from that my mum and I lave him with kisses and hugs and treats ever single day and he plays for hours each day of the week. He’s fifteen now and still acts like a kitten AND is on the chubby side. You know a cat is healthy when he wakes you up at 3AM every morning to play and then does things he knows he’s not supposed to do to get you to play some more (he likes chasing games that include hide-and-go-seek so he jumps on the dresser, messes with the blinds, ect).

    So I’ve hit three of the four topics now- de-clawing to prove that it’s not always OMG EVIL HUMAN! Indoor house cat’s being oppressed, and its ‘abuse’, which I shall say this only once: YOU ARE NOT A CAT, YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A CAT, NOT ALL CATS ARE THE SAME. Each fur baby has a different personality and each have a preference. It was a lucky coincidence ours was anti-social and had no qualms with being a pampered, spoiled brat.

    Now, in regards to selective breeding, may I point out that while it isn’t as natural as you would like it to be, it’s more natural than the computer you’re reading this on? God may not have initially created pure breeds, but he didn’t create internet either. At least not directly. You can’t start a fight saying “well it’s not natural” and whinge about what’s so “wrong” about something if you can’t put something into perspective. While being on the internet for YOU isn’t necessarily morally incorrect, for the Amish it is. While breeding for YOU is BAD when it’s pure breeding, may I not only remind you that as human beings mating with human beings we’re not doing anything different. If there was no pure breeding initially there would never be the breeds we have today. On top of that, there are good reasons each breed is created not just to keep it pure but also so we can learn from the animal itself. We discover new things every day, don’t try to deny it and say there’s no more to learn about something.

    As far as creating breeds that don’t work, I can understand how that might be viewed as cruel, but don’t forget that even humans are born with defects and we don’t do the “humane thing” and rid them from planet Earth do we? Some parents do, in the womb, and other parents try to shuffle their kids into the adoption system when they have a defect. I could seriously go on and on for days pointing out the faults in this sort of logic, but it all boils down to one factor, one isn’t better than the other. I won’t justify pure breeding when it hurts the animal, but I demand to know how YOU are so certain the animal is suffering. Did you ever once consider that the animal is happy? That they are pleased or receiving medication, surgeries, treatments to help their daily lives improve? If you even once say that “they shouldn’t have to go through with that” consider every Adeline Rose or Bernadette Resha that’s been born. We SHOULDN’T let a child that’s going to live a life of suffering (if you could call it that since Down Syndrome impairs the brain but does not necessarily harm the body and every physical ailment ever had been treated with ecstasy tablets and Vicodin so there is no pain) continue to live but almost all if not most parents follow through with the pregnancy anyway. Wanting something because it’s cute is not a crime, we’ve been picking daisies since the first caveman said “Ugg”, wanting to keep a cat from hurting others or themselves is not abuse, it’s consideration.

    On a side note, if you want to say a sterile room is abuse, I would hate to think of what you all would be like if you were bird people. It’s a reference to cages if you didn’t catch that.

    tl;dr: It’s not always abuse, stop generalizing, it makes you look bad like when the Coca Cola company was outed for putting crack in the soda. Resources: Cat owner, childcare assistant experience, all of my life+. I wonder how many people are going to think I’m misinformed or ignorant.

    • Thanks for voicing your opinion so strongly. I like passion and commitment. But you must realise that I have my opinion too. As it happens probably over 100 million people agree with me that declawing is cruelty to cats and inhumane because it is outlawed in the UK and many other European countries. These are democracies so the law reflects the peoples’ views. I think therefore you are wrong. Also it seems that your cat, that you declawed, might have been playing and to punish a cat for whatever reason, as your mother did, makes things worse. So I think you failed in your argument on declawing.

      As to selective breeding of unhealthy cats commonsense dictates it is wrong. It even goes against the rules of the cat associations! If the CFA was more honest and open they would have to admit breeding the extreme Siamese and Persian was against their rules. Both these breeds have more inherited defects than any other by a long margin. As to the other breeds I accept them. I am not against all cat breeding, just irresponsible cat breeding.

      As to indoor cats. Personally I don’t like it but I accept there are advantages and I have made that clear. What I don’t get is that even when a house has a large yard and there is the money and facilities to build an enclosure people still don’t build one. This shows a lack of empathy for a cat’s needs. People have cats for the wrong reason. I think you are one of those persons.

      • “Thanks for voicing your opinion so strongly. I like passion and commitment. But you must realise that I have my opinion too.”
        Ah, sorry mate, the “you”s were generalised.

        “As it happens probably over 100 million people agree with me that declawing is cruelty to cats and inhumane because it is outlawed in the UK and many other European countries.” I can see how it might be considered cruelty but at the same time I also think it’s a matter of double standards. If you have a commitment to an animal in comparison to someone who has a pet they’re willing to be rid of in case something ever comes up, it makes the difference.

        “I think therefore you are wrong.”
        I can respect that.

        “Also it seems that your cat, that you declawed, might have been playing and to punish a cat for whatever reason, as your mother did, makes things worse. So I think you failed in your argument on declawing.”
        >might have been playing
        Which part was playing? When he almost gut me or when he was biting my face? Haha! But in all seriousness, it was never a punishment and when it comes to having children and having a pet- which IS essentially another child- you need to choose what’s best for both. In my opinion what my mum managed to do as much but not I can respect your thoughts on the matter.

        Opinions opinions. You remind me of some of my old school mates, always were fun to talk to about controversial subjects.

        “I am not against all cat breeding, just irresponsible cat breeding.”
        I can see it, I can agree with it, your opinion that is.

        “What I don’t get is that even when a house has a large yard and there is the money and facilities to build an enclosure people still don’t build one.”

        Mind you I already said “living in the city” which means that there are hardly any gardens around. As far as not owning a cat for the right reasons, I don’t see what qualifies as a wrong reason. He needed a home and would have been off to the pound or local shelter with the rest of the litter hadn’t we gotten him. We treat him as family not a pet. /shrugs/ I don’t see anything wrong about that.

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