The Three Types of Cat Caretaker

The Three Types of Cat Caretaker

by Michael
(London, UK)

Did the child's presence have a detrimental effect on the cat? Read on..Photo by Beth Nazario (Flickr)

Did the child's presence have a detrimental effect on the cat? Read on..Photo by Beth Nazario (Flickr)

Apparently there are three types of cat caretaker, the dominionists, the humanists and the protectionists. So concludes a research study carried out by Indiana University South Bend cultural sociologist David Blouin.

He explains that people who care for pets change their attitude towards them when they have a a new human member of the family. A baby in other words. The change is one that is detrimental to the pet.

The dominionist human would seem to the kind of person who would declaw their cat; seeing a cat as something that is not a creature that demands the kind of respect which is provided by a humanist. The humanist sees their pets as human beings with equal rights. The protectionist does what the name suggests, they feel the pet needs protection but don't treat the pet as a human.

I would have thought that there is a large overlap between humanists and protectionists.

I any event if a person is a humanist before having a baby, afterwards they are liable to become a dominionist, treating the cat or dog worse, taking the cat or dog to the vet less often and spending less time with the pet. Their attitude changes, the cat or dog becomes a lesser member of the family, it seems to me.

The point being made is that a pet caretaker's attitude to his or her pet is influenced by environmental factors; it is flexible, almost fickle.

Personally, I find this depressing but not unexpected. It shows how fickle our attitudes can be when in fact we should have entirely consistent attitudes and relationships with our pets because we are dealing with living, feeling sentient beings that depend on us (when they are domestic cats or dogs).

We can be fickle and change our minds about the kind of dishwasher we like or want to buy or the furniture we want for the living room but we do not have the right, I believe, to change are approach to cat companions as it should be governed by morality and morality is black and white and immutable.

We should accept that humans are not as clever and as worthy as some people believe.

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The Three Types of Cat Caretaker

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Sep 12, 2010 Thanks for the info Sylvia Ann
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I appreciate the info on cats and birds. Like any responsible pet owner I want my cat to have as normal a life as possible, including outside time, but I also want to limit his impact on local wildlife-- especially song birds. Because of your informative posts I have been mainly taking Monty out in the evening, since the birds are less active then. I had been doing that to avoid bees-- but I'm really happy that I can also prevent his killing birds by going out with him at that time. He seems to like it. As dusk turns to darkness it really seems to bring out the little wild animal in him and he gets quite frisky!


Sep 11, 2010 Pets Aren't Stuff
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I think the whole problem was well summed up with a picture I saw on the front of the classifieds section of our local newspaper. There was a table of contents of sorts, with each heading given a picture: Jobs, Rentals, Autos and among these headings the term Stuff. By the word Stuff is a picture of a cat. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pets are Stuff. They couldn't make a heading Pets with a picture of a pet, no they put pets under Stuff. In all fairness, I haven't gotten the paper in a long time, so maybe they've changed this, but I was appalled.
My stuff can get neglected and it doesn't matter. My '76 Toronado is still sitting on the driveway waiting for me to replace the thermostat, but if I don't get to it right away, big deal. I periodically go through my stuff in the house and put it into bags and haul it off to donate it or take it to the dump. Games, books and toys have their use, but they wear out or I tire of them, so I get rid of them.
You can neglect stuff, toss it out, or even not take care of it very well, and it's really no big deal. On those grounds I contend that pets are NOT stuff. But until our society stops seeing them that way there will always be sad, stupid stories.
One quick comment on getting rid of pets because of allergies. I'm allergic to Monty, so I take allergy pills and vacuum a lot. Unless it's a case of a person swelling up and going into shock from the allergy, you can keep the pet. People have hay fever, but they still go outside, don't they? You don't totally stop doing something because of allergies unless they are very serious allergies. I have a young friend who was allergic to her cat growing up, but they didn't get rid of the cat, they just kept him out of her room, bought a really good vacuum and got her allergy shots. That same young woman has such an allergy to mold that right now she can't go outside because of the mold counts because she's had a couple of allergy attacks that could have been life threatening-- if that had been the case with the cat it would have went-- but it wasn't. How often is it really necessary to get rid of a cat because of allergies. I contend it's not that often.


Aug 22, 2010 Fickle
by: Leah (England)

Michael I totally agree with you; the amount of times I hear about cats being thrown out when a baby arrives or a family member suddenly becoming allergic. Pets do deserve the same consideration they've always had in a family.
I have a friend who had 2 premature babies. Nothing changed with regard to her 2 cats. They were never kept away from the babies. The kids are now 2 and 4 and have grown to love the cats. The cats are laid back and great with the kids too. Pity more families don't take a leaf out of her book.


Aug 20, 2010 More than One Side - 3
by: Sylvia Ann

Small as it is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: this killing spree can be prevented. Not in the woods. Not in a refuge for migratory birds. Not on the seashore. (If you have the time and inclination, and haven’t yet read it, you might want to google Kill the Cat that Kills the Bird? by Bruce Barcott, New York Times Dec. 2, 2007) Nor will it save birds wiped off the map by industrial pollutants, wind-farm propellers, lead poisoning from bullets, pesticides and loss of habitat. Yet these deaths are 95 percent preventable in our yards.

• If the neighbors’ cats are well cared for and healthy, if the neighborhood (unlike mine, since I moved) doesn’t swarm with nocturnal cougars, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, and night-vision juvenile sociopaths running and jumping with their B-B guns and slingshots, the cats can be let out when the birds have gone to sleep. After one or two hours of prowling around and having fun, homebody housecats will tap on your door, want to come in and have their supper, want you to kiss them ‘nighty-night,’ and tuck them in bed.

• Backyard bird-killing dwindles to near-zero in midsummer, fall and winter. If the cat refuses to stay indoors all year around, he can adjust to being kept in for a few weeks in springtime if he’s praised to the skies, pet, played with and given a sunny, spacious room with an open screened window.

Letting cats out only at night - or keeping them in during the day when birds are nesting – shows kindness and care to the birds and cats by almost completely preventing the loss of birds in your yard, respecting a cat’s right to outdoor adventure, and upholding your right to enjoy peace of mind...as perhaps those of you who’ve tried this already know.


Aug 20, 2010 More than One Side - 2
by: Sylvia Ann

This is why they lose altitude, drift to the ground and into the jaws of agate-eyed, whisker-twitching cats. Cats seize both nestlings and overworked parents hunting worms - this gruesome carnage occurs every spring.

After two years, I reached a point where I couldn’t afford to keep rescuing birds and driving them to the wildlife clinic for euthanasia or rehabilitation. Each time I donated a hundred dollars to their fabulous staff who - more often than not - worked miracles of healing. But at last I had to stop McWee.

As to what cats do to birds, I could describe enough scenes of horror to fill a book. Anyone living where birds abound has witnessed such suffering. During the nesting season, the torment that cats inflict on birds is horrendous and prolonged - not only on fledglings, but also their parents.

• Years ago, I heard a soft rustling outside my door at 5:00 a.m. I finally got up to see what it was, and nearly collapsed when I opened the door. My cat had caught a fledgling robin, carried it through the cat-door and into the sun room. The bird was smeared with saliva, blinded by cat-bites, denuded of feathers. The cat watched with rapt delight as the bird tried to scurry away on small broken feet, in its effort to escape. When it tottered too far, the cat reached out, slid the bird back, tossed it in the air, and watched it creep away again, in search of reprieve. God’s only excuse….

• Every spring - and every few days – strewn in my yard were limp, still warm robins with bloodied eye sockets, learning to fly or caught when hunting worms for their brood.

• Once I rescued a blue jay that was either dragged or fell from its nest. Not only its parents but half a dozen hysterical crows were screaming and dive-bombing McWee. (I too was screaming enough to jolt the dead out of their shrouds.) I gently pried the bird from his jaws and put it in a cotton-filled shoebox. It lay there in silence, its beak sunk on its breast, its little white eyelids shut during the hour-long drive to the wildlife shelter. The staff splinted its fractures with toothpicks, dosed it with antibiotics and nursed it back to health and full recovery within a month. But for days afterwards, my backyard was filled with the anguished cries of its parents searching for their cherished pride and joy. Last week I listened to a psychologist on the radio explaining why only we humans are ‘capable of love.’


Aug 20, 2010 More than One Side
by: Sylvia Ann

Campy zealots – ‘our values count and yours are squat’ – are all over the place. They’re a global scourge that people on this website seem to want no part of. The PoC-troops aren’t a ‘cat camp’ versus a ‘furniture camp,’ a ‘cat fan’ v. a ‘bird fan,’ ‘our four-footed pals are also our kids’ v. an ‘all that count are our children!’ camp coot. PoC troops examine both - or even more - sides of an issue. Although they dislike the declaw proponents (what’s to LIKE?) they offer ingenious, workable solutions to furniture problems.

My comments below on cats and birds, though unrelated to cats and small children, likewise avoid - as best I can - the ‘either-or’ stance and its underlying assumption that only one side of an issue or conflict deserves recognition.
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Some contributors to this site, especially those in the British Isles, write that their cats are both indoors and out – the most humane combination,if it can be achieved. Though mine have a sun porch, they’d prefer their freedom. Trouble is, FeLV is rampant in my neighborhood, and the vaccine is said to be less than 100 percent effective. Because of this and other diseases, my porch is double screened with wire mesh four inches out from the inner layer, to keep contagious strays from pouncing on the bug screen and spitting on my cats.

Before I decided to keep him indoors, Inspector McWee killed birds every spring. I blame myself, and can’t believe I let the situation continue for two years. My only excuse is that he protested when I put him in the house. I’ve had Insp. McWee for 13 years. His former owners moved away and left him behind when he was four or five years old, and accustomed to his freedom.

I kept hoping each killing would be the last. But it persisted. Since I was running low on funds, I finally had to take him in. He slowly adjusted and seemed content, though his life would have been more enjoyable if he’d been free to roam.

Not many people who live near birds will deny that most cats are hard-wired to hunt them, especially during the nesting season. It’s probably true a cat prefers mice to climbing into bird nests. But McWee climbed trees often enough that I had to wrap their trunks with chicken wire.

Rather than climb, though, cats prefer nestlings that come to THEM.

Fledgling American robins, though nearly the size of their parents, are weak as babies – for that’s what they are. Imagine their first plunge into space, trying to flap their untried wings. It’s true they rehearse for a couple of weeks by ‘flapping’ while gripping the edge of their nest. Even so, whether we humans are pumping iron, long-distance swimming or rock-climbing, it takes months to build muscle. On their maiden launch and subsequent flights for the next several weeks, infant robins lack the reflexes, the vigilance and strength crucial to survival.



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