Apparently there can be a very fine line between cat cruelty and cat welfare. I find it very strange. You would have thought that the two would occupy opposite ends of the spectrum in respect of cat caretaking. But no. Here is an example of how the two diametrically opposed aspects of cat caretaking can almost merge.
A person goes to a cat shelter and picks out a cat with FIV or FeLV. These are long term illnesses and cats can lead decent lives with them. It is obviously a sign of good cat welfare to adopt an ill cat that would otherwise probably be put down.
The cat lives a decent life and then loses his appetite and stops eating. The person takes his cat to the veterinarian for advice about appetite. The vet says that the cat needs to be euthanised. The person disagrees as he thinks his cat is content and not in pain. The person takes the cat home and the vet calls the police claiming animal cruelty is taking place. The police seize the cat and the man is charged under animal cruelty laws.
- The cat’s caretaker had no chance to obtain a second opinion.
- The vet says that the caretaker had refused her advice to treat the cat.
- The vets says that the caretaker refused to euthanise the cat.
It seems that the cat’s caretaker is being charged for animal cruelty for failing to take the veterinarian’s advice. Vets are obliged to report cases of animal cruelty.
However, when a vet reports animal cruelty, it has to be fairly cut and dried I would suggest because you are on dangerous ground making an accusation of animal cruelty. What if, as a vet, your diagnosis is not quite right? If you report someone on the basis of an inaccurate diagnosis you would open yourself up to a claim for compensation for defamation and some sort disciplinary action against you by a governing body.
Is is cruel not to euthanise a cat? That is a big philosophical question. Choosing the time to euthanize a cat is difficult. It is not a precise science. The window during which euthanasia would be considered acceptable is probably a period of a few weeks to several months, depending on the circumstances.
Stray and feral cats die in their millions every year from fatal illnesses and no one steps in to euthanize these cats. Many of then are ‘owned cats’. Many owned cats are deliberately shot by strangers in the USA. This action is immune from prosecution in the USA. Shooting a cat is much more cruel that not euthanizing a cat that is dying of natural causes when advised to by a vet. Or is it?
In the UK, when a person has locked in syndrome due to a massive stroke and has no life whatsoever but just drawn out misery and wants to die, he is refused the release he craves (the Tony Nicklinson case) . People aren’t cats but are we not being overly cautious in respect of human euthanasia and slightly overzealous in respect of cat euthanasia? And doesn’t this reflect our arrogance about ourselves and our general lack of respect for the cat?
These are difficult areas. It is for that reason that the vet should have been a little more circumspect. Perhaps she had a row with the cat’s owner, which may have put her in a bad mood. Elisa reported on this case a while ago.