For me, the AU$140,000 dollar Australian cat story is not all that it seems.
You may have read about the AU$140,000 rescue cat who was sold with a large 5 bedroom house as part of the fixtures and fittings! All the newspapers say that the buyer bought the sellers’ cat, whose name is Tiffany, for AU$140,000 because he paid that amount over the reserve price at auction.
I discuss two topics (a) was the cat really sold for AU$140,000 and (b) the ethical stuff.
The House Sale
The property was for sale at auction (unusual in the UK) and the reserve price was AU$2,060,000. The reserve price was not met so the property was not sold at auction but negotiations took place afterwards between seller and buyer as is their right.
One of the buyers negotiated to buy the house. The buyer’s son liked the cat who was seen lounging around the house (as cats do). The sellers, Mr and Mrs Perceval, jokingly said that they would throw their cat into the sale if the buyer bought the house where upon the buyer offered AU$2.2 million to buy the house.
However, some newspapers state that the buyer proposed an offer of AU$2.2 million provided the seller included the cat in the sale while other newspapers say that the seller demanded AU$2.2 million with the cat included in the sale. We don’t know the exact nature of the negotiations. Perhaps the buyer would have bought in any case, with or without cat. Who knows.
The truth the matter is that the buyer and seller were negotiating a price and the cat was a sweetener but when people are negotiating the price of property before signing a deal the numbers are fluid and it just so happens that the final figure in the negotiation was AU$2.2 million which is AU$140,000 over the reserve price at auction (reserve price is not the sellers’ desired price). This does not mean that the buyer bought Tiffany, the cat, for AU$140,000. It is a bit of newspaper hype which is popular when it comes to cats.
With that argument out of the way there are some interesting moral questions about the whole process.
Let’s say that the sellers did sell their cat with their house at this extraordinary price of AU$140,000; would you do that in order to obtain a house sale and simultaneously grab an extra chunk of money? It is particularly difficult in this instance because the sellers’ son was very fond of Tiffany. That said we are told that the son was going to take a gap year with time away from the family and home and therefore he would not be able to look after Tiffany in any case.
In addition, you could argue that it is better that Tiffany stays in the home that she knows so well – I understand that the sellers had lived at the home for 19 years – with new caretakers rather than moving to a new home with all the hassle that brings to a cat with her familiar caretakers.
This begs the interesting question whether there is a greater negative impact upon a cat if she is moved to a new home that if she has new caretakers. What do you think about that?
A lot of fantastic cat caretakers would say that they would not sell their cat at any price – of course. But if the price is AU$140,000 even the best cat caretaker might think twice.
Think what you could do with that money in terms of cat welfare and cat rescue. I know that sounds very commercial and heartless and it is probably irrelevant to many people but in terms of pure benefit to cats in general it could be argued that it is better to take the money.
It is a moral dilemma. Some newspapers say that the seller of this property was heartless in throwing in the cat with the sale. They are probably correct. It is treating the cat as a fixture and fitting and these are normally fridges and cookers not a living, sentient being with emotions and feelings.
Tiffany the Cat
She was bought at a pet shop. Not good I am afraid. She has a Ragdoll cat appearance. She a pointed longhaired cat with the white spotting gene causing a white blob on her face and probably on the legs or feet too.