Currently the Welfare of Cats is Fundamentally Wrong

By The Angora cat Association/Ankara Kedisi Derneği

Cat Welfare is Fundamentally Wrong

Cat Welfare is Fundamentally Wrong

Probably we will be the first ones who will say that the welfare of cats, the way it is done today, is fundamentally wrong. It’s illogical and based on emotions where the cat is reduced to the human infant. In Turkey, the welfare of cats is regulated by groups of women which statistically would be from middle class, often housewives and have plenty of time to devote for cats. The picture may be different in other countries. The solutions in cat welfare are based primary on emotions however.

The cat welfare psychology:

  1. A cat is a pet and MUST be wanted and adopted by humans, otherwise considered homeless.
  2. Cats can not survive without humans. Humans need to feed them, give them a shelter or a warm house.
  3. There is a crisis of cat overpopulation, therefor it is acceptable to kill unadoptable, feral ones when shelter has no more space for new cats.
  4. Cat is domesticated. There are cats which are feral and the ones which are domesticated.
  5. People who spend their lives for picking up stray cats, putting them to shelters and trying to rehome them are only ones who really help cats.

The points we should consider:

1. A cat’s worth does not depend on how much it is wanted by humans or not. A cat is not a PET, it’s an animal like any other. We do not try to control populations of other animals, nor we do try to save them by taking them to shelters. There is no any other case where animals except dogs and cats are expected to live indoors with humans. So why cats? Due to humans tendency to anthropomorphize cats (dogs are actually different topic), because ”they are cute” – it is believed that cat can not live outdoors and all of them SHOULD have a ”loving home”.

2. Felis Silvestris Catus are incredibly adapted species. That they are meowing because they expect a tasty effortless treat from you, it doesn’t mean that cat is starving. A cat is perfectly able to survive on its own. If we want to help cats we should invest our effort and time for those which are in need like injured, disabled, deaf, blind etc. Any healthy cat will do without human just fine. And we are NOT responsible for every death of cats as we can not save lives of every human.

3. How many cats are too many? How one knows we have an overpopulation crisis? How its possible to count all the cats anyway?

4. Cat domestication. Science hardly agrees with that. The researcher C. A Driscoll says that a cat ”domesticated itself” and this hardly can be called ”domestication” as a cat retained its instincts and being interdependent very well. It looks like cats learn how to tolerate humans and benefit from this. Animals will find many strategies to maximize their survival. They are really very intelligent animals.

The belief that cats are domesticated will quickly collapse once we realize that a cat must receive socialization with humans in order to be ”tamed/domesticated”. Any cat so called ferals which are by the way the same cats with didn’t receive the contact with humans – will be wild. It just shows that domestication did not happen if a cat is so quick to revert to its wild state. Nothing altered in its genetic makeup too. It’s not surprising when the genetic study reveals that the so called domestic cat is identical to wildcats (lybica I suppose) in Middle East… ”Every cat must have a home” is harmful idea. It devalues the cat making it some kind of powerless baby-like creature.

Not everyone wants to own a cat and not everybody can be a good owner. Not every cat will be a good pet. Many of these cats would benefit from a TNR policy rather than shelters or forcing them to become indoor pets.

Cat welfare is actually a business, especially speaking about the shelters. In Turkey, they are just horrible. A cat would have a happier life on the street than in a shelter. Turkish people love cats and dogs, they feed them look after them. Every shop here has its ”pet”. The animal abuse is extremely rare. However some other societies may not value their stray cats, so regulating the population of those cats by Trap-Neuter-Release methods and providing education for those societies, may be the best solutions.This type of education we have today about cats as worthless, abused unwanted (”impure”) pets nobody needs, is harmful and infective. What we should teach for people is a respect for a cat. And no, its not a pet unless we want it to become one.

The flawed ideas seen as ”cat welfare” are very handy for cat fanciers. These actually serve for them very well. Once we make random bred natural cats worthless, the cat fancy will be glad to offer THEİR cats as a replacement. This I suppose how capitalism works, an art of convincing people to pay money for things that used to be free…

I hope our thoughts did not offend anybody. We would be glad if you Michael and other readers would look into the matter more closely. It’s better to avoid emotions, feelings and beliefs. To think freely, one must restrain one’s desire to believe because of social pressures to conform. It’s hard, but being open minded is always a good start.

Kind Regards,

The Angora cat Association/Ankara Kedisi Derneği

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Comments

Currently the Welfare of Cats is Fundamentally Wrong — 20 Comments

  1. You don’t offend anyone who is honest. You certainly don’t offend me. We really need articles like yours, which is why I made it an article from a comment.

    The other major cat websites ignore the big questions. It is all slightly frivolous and unsubstantial. It is the way people like it but things are changing.

    I believe it is time to re-evaluate the domestic cat relationship and the points you make do just that.

    I wrote an article about a year ago on the subject of the failure of the idea of the domestic cat.

    I wonder whether the whole idea of domesticating cats is a good idea because humans are unable to do it properly if we take all 500,000,000 cats into consideration.

    Sure there are many millions of happy cats but how many unhappy domestic cats are there and how many are killed by people? 4 million per year in the USA alone at “shelters”? That hints at failure to me.

    I am not saying that we should not have the domestic cat because I love them but if domestication is a failure for the cat then I’ll do without.

    I think what you are saying is that we need less domestic cats and a higher standard of cat caretaking amongst cat owners to reduce the need for charitable cat welfare (shelters etc.).

    Cat welfare should be in the home. We need a whole new relationship based on a much higher level of responsibility.

    I agree that the domestic cat is schizoid. It is domestic on your lap but in the garden outside alone it is a wild cat.

    People who see the cat as a child are the people who declaw the cat. Treating the cat as a child is not respecting the cat.

    I could go on..

  2. ‘What we should teach for people is a respect for a cat’

    That says it all for me!
    Too many people do not respect cats, they get them then dispose of them as unwanted possessions, they cause the death of unwanted cats and kittens by abandoning un-neutered cats to form colonies and breed.
    A pet cat maybe can survive outdoors but with a real struggle, especially one who has been used to home comforts and food provided.
    True feraLs are cats born feral from cats abandoned, generations back. It’s fine to trap and socialise feral kittens to give them a better life but TNR is best for adult feral cats, they need their freedom.
    This world is very lacking in education about cats and that is what is needed, MORE education.
    Like you Michael I love cats, but as you say, if domestication is a failure for the cat then I’ll do without too.

  3. I really find this angle fascinating thank you! Ruth makes a good point about abandoned cats perhaps not being used to survival and in need of help. Those cats would have been perhaps better off as feral left alone without the addiction of what humans provide.

    It sounds to me like in Turkey people take care of the community cats without needing to ‘own’ them. If only it were the same in other countries. A big reason why it’s not like this in other countries is because as you say, people are made to think the community cats shouldn’t exist because they are homeless. But actually its totally normal for a communtiy to have cats and we should allow it and let the cats be.

    • Good point. The original domestic cats were community cats. In places around the Mediterranean that seems to be commonplace still. Then we developed the idea of possessing cats and keeping them indoors. It is called progress.

  4. There is one thing that I think this excellent article lacks – a recommendation as to what we should do to improve cat welfare and how we can improve our relationship with the domestic cat.

    I don’t see a conclusion or suggestions.

  5. “”Currently the Welfare of Cats is Fundamentally Wrong””
    This is a complicated matter. Since no one solution fits all situations we must maintain a flexible approach. To us semi-feral and outdoors cats may seem to be doing fine , but is this true? It is known that the average life span of feral cats is much less than those kept principally indoors with occasional forays outside, meaning considerable human supervision.
    The following links explain more about feral cats and that they are not all the same.
    http://cats.about.com/library/guest/ucfeature4a.htm
    The second link details all the dangers that outside cats are exposed to.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080620135934AAZTcSy
    What has not been considered is that the modern world in which outdoors cats now live is far different from the one in which they lived and developed naturally prior to and during the agricultural revolution. In those days they did not have to contend with lanate, pesticides, and other poisonous substances , people intent on doing them harm for fun, road traffic, etc. But most of all they lived under more natural circumstances far different from modern cities which are dangerous places for animals who’s instincts have not yet come to terms with such complicated environments. The number of surviving wildcats including the immediate ancestor of our domestic cats is very low especially when compared to the estimated 500 million pet cats around the world. This is testament to the beneficial influence of close association with humans. The less close a cat is to humans the shorter it’s lifespan and this is what keeps their numbers under control under “natural”
    circumstances, and why they have to produce such a large number of kittens. When mortality is reduced by the introduction of human care this high fecundity becomes a problem and frankly it is the human caregivers who have the responsibility to control that. The increased danger for outside cats is illustrated very clearly by the loss of 4 of my black SH’d males Two succumbed to snakes but 2 more recently just vanished. Many of my cats are indoor-outdoor cats including several intact males which behave as belonging to a clan showing little hostility but need more medical attention for things such as ticks, lice, stomach complaints, and occasional skin injuries. In short outdoor cats have a higher mortality rate and suffer mote health problems than indoor cats. Some of my cats just will not go outside, and others have a nice run around the garden and then want to come back inside. But there are others who stay away for several days and come back a little dishevelled but otherwise OK. I use a lot of Tarlusal contraceptives. The clever ones keep out of trouble which is made much easier by this area having many more olive and orange trees than people. Not so in Girne, Lefkosa, Izmir, or Istanbul.

    • Harvey, the reason why your comment was not published immediately is because it contains two links. It is just programmed like that to stop spam. Just so you know.

  6. Thank you for posting my comment as an article.

    Michael said: ”There is one thing that I think this excellent article lacks – a recommendation as to what we should do to improve cat welfare and how we can improve our relationship with the domestic cat.
    I don’t see a conclusion or suggestions”.

    Sure, because originally this post was a quick comment, not a complete article. Everybody is welcome here to share their suggestions and thoughts about this topic.

    What should we do to improve cat welfare?

    There are many ways, however the most important is to change the way we think about the domestic cats in general. If we treat them as children, if we think they exist for humans to be their pets and refuse to see that cats are ANİMALS. Yes, we love them and enjoy their companionship, yet it’s important to realize a cat does not exist solely for humans and just for humans or in all cases should have an owner. It doesn’t need a human. If we want a cat as a pet we should be educated how to look after that cat. There are just too many bad owners and I doubt their cats are happy. A Cat ownership should be optional not something what should be applied for all living cats. There is no such a thing as unwanted cat if we speak about random bred community cats. They can live on their own and don’t have to be wanted by anybody.

    The idea of possessing cats and keeping them indoors is not something what came naturally, it’s a new trend I suspect came with development of cat fancy. We probably should debate whether is it really a progress. When one feels that ALL cats should be pets and no cat should live outside there is seriously wrong with this type of thinking. A cat is an animal which should live outdoors like all other animals. This may not apply for some human made breeds, as humans tend to breed them for appearance or even preserve its disabling characteristics(I refer to many cat breeds created from mutations, as well ”extreme” types).

    We definitely should have community cats. We should however not have shelters which kill them. Shelters should be like hospitals for humans – for those which needs them. Particularly for those which are weak, vulnerable and ill. To imprison cat to shelter because we think it HAS to find home is crazy. If we think deep enough, most of cats don’t need homes. We don’t try to find homes for other animals (are their lives worth less than those of cats?). Indoor pet is a product of human mind where human is seen as some kind of ”lifesaver”. It’s totally human centric and very narrow thinking based again on emotions only. Biological, ecological etc perspectives are never ever considered.

    A relationship with a cat is an alternative source of social support where human benefits emotionally from this. But what about the cat? Free food and protection is no doubts good for its survival. But still should be try to impose ”all cats must have home” idea for ALL cats?

    Are really cats domesticated? I think the domestication of cats did not happen. A cat is still NOT domesticated. The best proof of it is, like it was said before, that any cat without socialization with humans will be WİLD. It is still a wild animal, but can be tamed. A tamed cat is a cat we call ”domesticated” and those which were not tamed and avoid humans are ”ferals”. Both are the same cats however. We all know even when a cat is ”tame/domesticated” it will never become dependent on humans like dogs do. Like people say, a cat owns a human not other way round.

    Improving cat welfare would mean to make lives of cats easier not in our homes only but also outside. If we feel we have overpopulation problem, which personally I think, is exaggerated, then the acceptable way would be TNR. Unfortunately side effect observed in freeborn neutered cats is a widespread obesity. A neutered cat living outside will eat anything it finds and most of foods given by humans are rich of carbs.

    Yes, we have heard arguments that cats kill wildlife, but its more propaganda than reality for most of cases(by birdists, Smithonian etc. I highly recommend VOX Felina website for those who want to know more). Here in Turkey, there are large populations of random bred cats and yet no one complains that wildlife is getting extinct because of them…
    Cars probably kill more humans than cats so safe driving is important for everybody.
    In Turkey, in many cities we have garbage problem. Cats tend to eat from garbage containers, and this is a big problem, as they can get poisoned, ill, or even injured. People should demand authorities do something about this.
    The occurrence of abuse of cats depends in which society we live (so far as I know not a problem in Turkish society). The only way to deal with this is education. It may be harder to do than said. If we teach people that cats are UNWANTED, abandoned pets, homeless, vulnerable, there are too many of them, they massively kill birds etc. do not expect people will learn a respect for a cat. The impression I have got reading about the USA welfare of cats, a cat is seen there as something people should get rid off, something what shouldn’t exist in first place. Euthanasia, a nice word killing healthy cats, shooting them etc all can be justified because there are ”too many of them” or because ”they are homeless”. Right. All of this is counterproductive, you can be sure.

    Many people who are involved in cat welfare are prone to black and white thinking. They forget that there are alternative ways to solve the problems and that shelters, re-homing may not and do not always work. Looking for solutions may require more thinking, this may involve some complexity. People do not like complexity they try oversimplify things as much as possible. The easiest way for many is to go with a crowd. But it doesn’t mean that popular and accepted ways dealing with problems are most effective and wisest. Currently the welfare of cats doesn’t work right.

    Like Marc said ”Its totally normal for a community to have cats and we should allow it and let the cats be.”

    Yes it’s very normal to have community cats. We may have cats as pets, but please let those which are not, LİVE free.

    • I understand totally that your article was originally a comment so not something complete in the sense of the questions Michael asked.

      Your points are all very interesting and good – perhaps cats would just be alot happier and better off without us humans. The ones who live in our homes become very dependant on us and to that it is our duty to remain responsible or we should not have a cat in our home.

      I agree the situation and attitude in the US is the opposite extreme or pinnacle which embodies the problems and issues with human attitudes you describe.

      I wonder – you really have so much to say and interesting personal as well as objective knowledge – is it your job? Or are you retired, with time for this research and very developed way of thinking? I do hope you write a book as I will surely read it as soon as it becomes available.

  7. This is a really great page: http://commonsenseforcats.com/ It should be told about all cats, not only those we call ”feral”.

    Still we wouldn’t like to see TNR overused here in Turkey. Probably I need to remind that those free roaming cats in Turkey are the real Angoras (including shorthair ones we gave a name Anatolian SH).

  8. Michael, if you want you may include my previous comments to this article. It would look more complete.

    • Sure, will do. I’ll look at. That may have caused a slight complication which I hadn’t foreseen but I want to say thanks a lot for writing this. For me and I believe many others it is a very useful article.

  9. If you believe that cats are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and belong in nature, then stop feeding any strays. Watch how long they survive. You are 100% hypocrites if you believe cats are natural to the environment but you must supplement their foods. Show us all again how i……. (deleted by admin because it is rude)

    • If you use rude language again and insult people you will be banned — again 😉 You comments are being moderated because you can’t be trusted (as usual).

  10. FACT: Your mythical “vacuum effect” is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived “vacuum” is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there’s no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR OVER 3 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats’ resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of “vacuum effect” at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.

    How much longer are others going to have to spoon-feed your pablum-level education to you?

    • This person looks like he/she hate cats passionately. His arguments make no sense, just picking something that supports what he/she wants to believe.

      Isn’t it Woodsman?

      Michael, I would suggest do not waste time such people.

      • I can’t resist (sometimes) arguing with him. Also, I don’t want PoC to be seen as a bunch of “cat-lovers” living in a false bubble. We need to respond to these people because there are a lot of people like him or people with similar ideas. I believe that if I censor people who rant and rave against the cat it hurts PoC, making it less serious and less “real”. PoC must be real and serious in its objectives to help in the improvement of cat welfare. Censoring comments is a serious business.

        I hope you understand that idea. I don’t like doing this but the fact that Woodsman comes here routinely is a good thing. It means he is concerned about us, which in turn means we are doing something to help the cat.

        I think you can only see what is right in the light of what is wrong.

  11. Response to Harvey Harrison:

    In my previous comments I asked people to try look at a cat as an ANİMAL. Harvey however sees a cat only as a pet as something we should protect from all bad things. On the other hand, other animals never receive such a privileged treatment. Considering that a cat is a predator and has to survive by consuming other animals (canned, dry commercial cat food is also made from animals that have been killed to feed our cats), the lives of those animal are forgotten. I guess because they are not so cute, so why should we care right? We humans lack compassion to our own species, think about how many people die every day in roads, from pollution caused diseases, wars caused by fellow humans, starvation. Let alone homeless people in developed countries… We are so compassionate about the cats however.

    Yet, now we feel responsible to save very cat. Do we really need to be responsible for all cats which aren’t our pets? You know what, many animals which we don’t think as pets die from same causes like poisoning, snakes, traffic etc. We never give a second thought about them. How dishonest we are.

    If you have a cat as a pet this is YOU are responsible for its well-being and care. Don’t let your cats outside, if you don’t want to take a risk. I have two Angora cats and they are precious for me, this is why they are indoor cats only. But other cats you see outside are NOT your cats. They have to live like any other animals, they have to face with predators, they may die, they may get ill… ALL animals have the same problems. They all have to fight for survival. Nature is cruel enough, where only the fittest survive. Animals have to die, this is how nature keeps a balance, this is also a natural population control. You don’t want any cat to die, but when you let them all survive, you start to complain about the overpopulation. After that we have shelters killing millions of healthy cats etc. Isn’t it strange, when we, guided by our irrationality, at the end cause more harm than good?

    It doesn’t make a difference what made a cat become wild, be it abuse, be it lack of socialization. They all behave similarly, they all have one thing in common: they don’t trust humans.

    Harvey said: ” It is known that the average life span of feral cats is much less than those kept principally indoors”
    ” In short outdoor cats have a higher mortality rate and suffer mote health problems than indoor cats”

    Sources? Scientific studies proving your point? Without this your claim does not prove that ”feral” cats have shorter life span than indoor cats.

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