Is This Cat Abuse?

I think this story, that Dan kindly drew to my attention, is a subtle form of cat abuse despite the charitable aspect. I’ll agree it is a controversial topic but needs to be aired. Please go easy on me!

This is about a cat with a cleft palate or lip, I am not sure exactly what the medical problem is and neither it seems does the cat’s caretaker. I am surprised that there is lack of detail on the medical condition.

Ugly cat with a cleft palate

Quasi

The condition makes the cat ‘ugly’ in human terms (other cats don’t see it that way). And the cat’s owner has used that ugliness to raise money for charity. I am very skeptical and would ask whether all the money raised – $4,000 –  has gone to charity. Let’s be realistic, a lot of charities are in fact businesses. I am not saying that is happening in this case.

The cat’s name is Quasi. I don’t know if Quasi is male of female. I guess he is male. The owner, Renee, has built a website around Quasi and sells items to raise money.

This is a way, using an animal, of raising money on the internet that is not uncommon nowadays and a lot of people find it very nice.

I don’t know if I am in the minority on this but I believe that Renee is exploiting her cat and  not showing enough respect for her cat. I am being honest but realise Renee will hate what I am saying if she finds out and other people too will probably shoot me down.

I am all for raising money for charity. PoC does that too. But I have this gut feeling that it would be more ethical if some of the money raised was used to improve Quasi’s condition if that is possible. It is not clear from Renee’s website if this has happened.

Quasi’s condition is more than a hair lip, a cosmetic condition. It seems to be a cleft palate. If I am correct this leaves a gap in the roof of the mouth and food can go up into it. It can be corrected with surgery. Martha Kane has a cat whose cleft palate was corrected with surgery.

A cleft palate is a birth defect of the nasal and oral cavaties. The palate bones fail to fuse together. This leaves an opening from the mouth to the nose which might be the cause of Quasi’s sinus problems. Sinus conditions can cause pain. Is Quasi in pain or discomfort?

To summarise a cleft palate is uncomfortable for a cat and it can be corrected. Martha Kane lives in Malta and she paid about $400 (USD) I recall. I may be wrong. It would probably cost more in the USA and there are risks associated with this sort of surgery such as infection.

But would it not be better to spend time and effort improving the life of Quasi first? There is no doubt that no matter how well you dress it up, exploiting ugliness in a cat is a form of cat abuse.

And, yes, before someone screams at me, I know money is raised for charities and Quasi was rescued from a shelter. That is good, very good. Praise is definitely due to Renee for that. I think she should also be gentle criticised for exploiting Quasi’s so called ugliness.

This aspect of this story is totally ignored by Catster.com who feature this cat. I don’t think it can be ignored and I believe that in not addressing this difficult aspect of this story they are doing the cat a disservice.

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Comments

Is This Cat Abuse? — 28 Comments

  1. Poor little boy/girl. I hope he/she is happy. This reminds me of ‘bub’ or ‘lil bub’. Alot of people use disability/special needs to raise awareness, and sometimes money. I’ve seen it on life with cats alot and the cat blogosphere from time to time. I would say that his/her owner must love him/her very much. Lets hope the money goes to the right cause. Maybe I am being naive – maybe not. I hope not!

  2. Poor Quasi! I do think a veterinary surgeon could probably improve his life for him, is his ‘owner’ going to leave him in that state for the rest of his life? I don’t think it will be a long life if she does. Around his eyes and nose look swollen to me, it must be a struggle for him to breathe and to eat and look at that collar just about choking him.
    It reminds me of days gone by when circuses exploited child dwarfs and siamese twins, bearded ladies, etc, to attract attention and make money.
    While I’m all for raising money for charities I would never ever use an animal’s deformity to do so and I think it’s terrible that this poor cat is used that way.

  3. Poor little soul, his “owner” may be raising money for charity, but as they say charity begins at home and to my mind she should show a bit of charity to Quasi and get him some medical attention.

  4. This is my comment on the Catster.com article and his owner’s response:

    Dan in Tempe wrote:

    Why not use some of that money for surgery. It seems like one of the first thing you’d think of. You obviously love the cat. Treat him with the respect that is due and raise the money for surgery. Quazi deserves to not have to deal with that if it can be fixed, right?

    Renee (aka Quasi’s Mom) (unregistered) wrote, in response to Dan in Tempe:

    Hi Dan, I get that question a lot. Quasi has no trouble eating, is in no pain, and is a wonderfully happy kitty. Her only real complication is that she sneezes a lot, and that’s really more of a complication for me since she usually aims those sneezes at my face and/or dinner. When I adopted her, she had been to the vet and, other than some ingrown eyelashes (that were corrected) they saw no reason to put her through the pain and stress of a complicated surgery. We watch her closely and if she ever shows signs of distress due to her cleft lip, we’ll certainly reinvestigate the surgery option, but at this point she’s much happier without it. Thanks!

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    • Thanks Dan. She seems then to have a hole in the roof of her mouth. This seems to be the cause of sneezing as food is going up to her nose. The sinus problem is probably caused by the cleft palate too. Well there you are. At least she has checked it out. The vet has advised no surgery. I disagree personally because you can’t measure the amount of distress and discomfort a cat is going through because it is hidden. I would make the presumption that it does cause a decent amount of discomfort due to:

      • Sneezing
      • Coughing/gagging
      • Snuffling
      • Rhinitis

      How about this for a test: If a human child had a cleft palate with a hole in the roof of her mouth would the parents elect to have surgery to rectify it? The answer would be a 100% yes. On that basis I would support surgery for this cat. Of course there are risks with surgery. I understand that. And we don’t have the full picture. If the defect (the hole) is severe then surgery is probably not advisable but if not then I think a vet would normally advise surgery.

      The original question still stands. Is it OK to use a cat’s disability to raise funds for charity? Especially a cat that has some discomfort. Once again and this is personal, I don’t think it is OK and I think it is a mild form of cat abuse. That sounds strong but they are my views. Better to raise money some other way and love and respect your cat.

      This is a very good page on cleft palate in cats and dogs.

  5. Here’s my 10 cents worth…

    I think it’s unfair to assume the owner has withheld medical treatment and is abusive based just on articles and photos. I would never presume what is best medically for any animal based on such limited info. Quasi is at least 7 yrs old and appears to be in otherwise good condition, so I would guess the owner isn’t lying when she said it’s under veterinary care. And if the cat can eat/drink etc. and isn’t in pain, I don’t know that I would put it through major reconstructive surgery either. (If it is severely debilitated, then that would be different.) But the whole point is, I don’t know becasue I’ve never seen the cat or it’s medical records and don’t live with it, so how can I (or anyone else) know what is best for it?

    And using photos of a deformed animal to raise money isn’t abuse. It might be tacky and perhaps even unethical sometimes, but it has no ill effect the animal. They really have no awareness that humans are exploiting their deformity. (Obviously it would be abuse to intentionally harm an animal for such a purpose.)

    In my opinion, if you have concerns that charity money is being spent incorrectly, then don’t donate. I choose not to give in any of these situations unless I know them personally because I’m a skeptic and want to know where my $ goes. But, it’s unfair to insinuate the person may be a thief w/out something to back it up.

    • Thanks for the comment. It is appreciated. I am not insinuating that the money is used other than charitably. I am just trying to raise the subject delicately. There are a lot of charities that are run as businesses essentially with the first objective being making money to pay salaries. And I realise the cat does not know she is being paraded around as “ugly” so she has no hurt feelings but it does not respect the cat as far as I am concerned. Everything we do regarding the domestic cat should be underpinned by a respect for the cat. You can’t go wrong if you do that.

      • Your intentions may not have insinuated your ignorance and lack of knowledge and research on Quasi, Yet your choice in words have no compassion and are insulting. Perhaps you need to research before you criticize on anything as delicate as this case in which you chose to exploit in your opinion on animal abuse.

  6. So she hasn’t actually taken Quasi to a vet herself but only taken someoe else’s word for it that the cat’s life wouldn’t be improved by surgery.
    I think the first step she should have taken was a second opinion from a vet specialising in cats.
    It’s the same old story, because cats are so stoic and accepting of their circumstances, some people think they are well and happy, when it reality they are suffering in silence.

  7. Are you CRAZY!? Could you not find anything else to write about in your blog!? One, Quasi is a female. I would assume you could guess that since you guess/assume everything else about the cat’s quality of life and medical status. Two, Quasi is a very loved and well taken care of kitty. How do I know…I have been around since day one that Quasi was adopted by Renee. She has done everything to ensure the cat is healthy and loved. And let me assure you every penny raised for charity has gone to charity. Quasi inspires Renee on a daily basis to create art work that is unique and has personality, just like Quasi! Quasi gets more love and attention than you could ever imagine.I am appalled at your verbal attack of my friend and her cat! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF for putting down someone who has gone out of her way to care for animals that need a home! All of Renee’s pets have been adopted from shelters or rescues. She lovingly brings these animals into her home and family regardless of their medical needs, conditions, or special personalities. You should be more careful what you write about and realize that your words are really hurtful especially when all your accusations are completely false!

    • I am nor crazy. Are you crazy? I am not accusing anyone of anything. I am asking a question (in case you did not spot it) and discussing an important point. I am not ashamed and I am not wrong. I will stick by what I say. If you don’t understand what I say, I am sorry for you. You could be more polite. If anyone uses for whatever purpose a disability or defect in anatomy, it is wrong morally. I would like you to think about that statement before ranting away at me. It does not matter if all the money is used for charity. If you were a mother and had a child who has a cleft palate would use your child’s condition to raise money? I don’t think you would. Why should a cat that is loved and a member of a family be different?

      You have an attitude that treats the cat as a second class animal. Typical. Do you have a cat? Do you declaw your cat? Do you believe in declawing? I just set higher standards than you.

      • Michael you’re an ignorant dumbass on this matter and have no knowledge as to the circumstances of Quasi’s life before adoption. Besides your high standards in your opinions don’t get you much positive publicity and in return you must have an unsatisfying vocation just so you can keep your lack of knowledge opinions going on the Internet. Famous writers have more respect than you Sir.

        • My article asked a question for God’s sake and I went very gently on the subject so why the hell you are coming at me so heavy-handedly is beyond me. Why don’t you try and say what you want to say politely? It helps. It works better.

          I am entitled to my opinion. I will continue to state it.

          Why don’t you write a counter article? You explain the background etc.. Then I’ll publish it. That is fair.

  8. FYI, when you write something like this: “I am very skeptical and would ask whether all the money raised – $4,000 – has gone to charity” … you ARE insinuating that the money doesn’t go to charity. So don’t pretend you’re not as people call you out on that.

    And I have to think every animal (and animal owner) who has benefitted from that $4,000 raised wouldn’t care whether it was raised by a “beautiful” pet picture or “ugly” pet picture — at the end of the day that money is doing good things for animals in need. That anyone would take the time to raise money on behalf of rescued animals should be applauded (kudos, Renee!). And that anybody would be critical of someone who clearly has nothing but the best intentions is really disappointing, to say the least.

    • The truth is bigger than anything for me. And if she wanted to raise money for cats she can do it some other way. This is a cheap, abusive way of doing it as far as I am concerned.

      • Not sure what truth you are looking for, since it all seems to be out there, and you seem to be in the wrong with regard to your accusations. (It’s OK to admit mistakes! You’re not running for president and nobody is going to accuse you of flip-flopping or anything… you can do it!)

        And you are WAY too flippant with the word “abusive.”

        • I genuinely believe it is a mild abuse of the cat to do what she did. It is certainly disrespectful of the cat. You would not do that with a child or a friend. Because a cat has no voice and can’t object you can do as you please. You cannot present ugliness as some sort of celebrity selling point to raise money. It is disrespectful.

  9. I would argue that your blog or article is more abusive than any of your ‘concerns’ (re:veiled accusations). By creating doubt based simply on your gut feeling and skepticism you have accomplished two things.

    1. You have possibly damaged the ability of a charity to raise funds based on no actual evidence or information, just finger pointing and unfounded judgement.
    2. You have garnered interest and attention for yourself and your blog with disregard for the effect or consequence on others, including and most importantly the animals Renee uses her donations to assist.

    I do not need your vanilla response defending your right to attack others disguised as concern for animals. It seems clear to me that your primary concern is how many hits you receive by attacking someones motives based on no actual information. Pathetic

    • It is not about hits. It is about the truth. Sure I want hits. But above that I want the truth and honesty and I genuinely don’t think this is an honest way to behave. It does not matter what you say. And I have the right to say what I like on my site and you are very lucky that I published your comment as you have insulted me.

  10. Please stop. I found this post this morning and pointed some friends to it, which is probably where the sudden interest is coming from; however, while I appreciate people defending me and Quasi, no one needs the back and forth name-calling and finger-pointing. You’re never going to agree. I don’t agree. I don’t care. I know about Quasi’s health and her home life and that she is perfectly fine without putting her through painful, and most importantly, unnecessary surgery. There are a couple things I would like to clear up though, since I was never given the chance to defend myself from the start:

    1) Quasi does not have a cleft pallet. She has a cleft lip. The difference being that there is no hole in the roof of her mouth and food does not travel anywhere other than through the digestive system. Her sneezing is similar to any other cat with a pushed in nose (e.g. Persian). Vets have not recommended any additional corrective actions and she does not have any difficultly eating or breathing.

    2) I’m hurt that people would think that I’m using her to scam people and pocket the money, but I am a skeptical person and have had the same questions regarding other similar charities. However, instead of publicly expressing that concern and possibly damaging donations that would have otherwise been made to the UglyKitty Fund, I would have preferred if you had contacted me first. I’d be happy to provide you with receipts, handwritten thank you cards, contact information for the shelters, or anything else that would help verify my credibility.

    If anyone would like to contact me directly to make a donation, ask a question, request proof of donations, or send me emails about what a horrible person I am, please address it to quasi@myuglykitty.com.

    Thank you.

    Love and paws,
    Renee and Quasi

  11. While I get what your trying to get at I think you should have thought about reaching out to Renee before making your assumptions. I think this is poor on your part to not getting all the facts before writing this piece. I know Renee her cause and care of her animals. You could not be more wrong and I think you should ask her yourself and write a follow-up piece. You dragged her through the mud with assumptions vs facts no thought to the consequences .

  12. It sounds to me like you should take up a similar complaint with the SPCA and Sarah McLaughlin… and any other charity that uses any of its children or adults are affected with the disease in commercials or ads addressing why you should donate to the cause.

  13. Renee says the cat is healthy and happy the way she is, so why put Quasi through unnecessary pain and stress? To make her beautiful? Are you that shallow that even your pet needs to be perfect? Renee rescued Quasi from a shelter. Where would Quasi even be now without Renee? How many other people would adopt a cat with a deformed face and possible health issues?

    Stop comparing the cat to a child – children and cats are not the same. I have a cat that I love dearly. I have had cats my entire life and I still know the difference between cat feelings and people feelings and how much they actually understand life. Don’t you?

    And since you keep comparing the cat to people – I think it’s great that this kitty can use its deformity to help charity, and I think if the cat actually understood any of this, she’d be fine with it. Don’t real people use their handicaps/diseases/deformities to help other people like them? Aren’t people taught to stand up and be proud of who they are?

    You need to think before you post articles about something you know nothing about. I personally know Renee and know that she would never abuse any animal. I have also met Quasi who is a very happy and loving kitty who showed no signs of any distress. She was actually one of the most social cats I’ve ever met unlike my cat who hides when visitors come!

  14. If you can openly post your opinion for the world to see, why do our opinions have to “await moderation?” That seems very unfair and hypocritical of you.

    • Well, no it’s not because it’s my website. People can say what they like as long as they are polite. And once I have approved a comment further comments by that person don’t require moderation.

  15. It’s nice to know that you’re a qualified veterinarian, Michael. We can all breathe a sigh of relief now that you’ve diagnosed Quasi’s medical condition without consulting her owner.

    “Is this cat abuse?” should be changed to “Open mouth and insert foot.” I won’t be returning to your website, this uninformed finger pointing is cruel in itself.

    • Fine, please go somewhere else. You don’t have to be sarcastic. I am entitled to my point of view. If you disagree you can make your point in a comment. But you don’t need to make smart arse remarks in the process.

  16. I just found out about Quasi from another cat that I follow on FB. I very much disagree with you. Looking at the photos and info on this cat, I can see she is happy and well cared for. Quasi and other cats that are “used” in charites lend awareness to the adoptibility of “special needs” cats. Seeing photos of Quasi and others like her help us to understand a new “normal” and not be so shallow as to the perfect cat. Without this awareness, these cats would be tossed aside (killed) like anything else not perfect in our society, denying both the cat and the owner of what could be a very special life. I would hate to apply your logic to people and children. There are many beautiful people on the outside that are the ugliest humans (look at the celebrity trash we have to see on a daily basis). Your judgements of this cat and her owner are very unfair and not properly vetted. While maybe you are entitled to your point of view, I would suggest you open your heart and soul, not just your eyes, to what is truly beautiful in the world. Please research your information (like the actual health and welfare of this cat and the facts about the owner’s charity) before you publish denigrating information, because not only is is hurtful and damaging to Quasi and Rene, it dimishes your entitled opinion.

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