In most countries there is absolutely no system of any kind that encourages minimum standards of cat caretaking. It is all about, “do as you please”. A totally laissez-faire state of affairs. Even in the main domestic cat markets, the USA, Europe and the UK, there is very little in the way of systems that improve domestic cat welfare. All we have is the law to go to if something goes wrong.
For example, if someone abuses a cat they might get caught and punished. The likelihood is that they won’t get caught. In which case the law does not protect the cat. And in any event the law is reactive. It steps in after the event; after the cat has been hurt. The concept I suppose is that animal abuse laws protect cats because people will be frightened about being caught. But as I said, often people don’t get caught. And how many cases of at least mild cat abuse are taking place behind closed doors every day right now? Lots.
Accordingly most of the time in the West there is nothing in place that is designed to raise standards of domestic cat guardianship. Nothing.
People who are sensitive to animal welfare requirements understand that there is a need to improve domestic cat welfare across the board. Doesn’t it strike you as a strange state of affairs that nothing happens? Do we value the cat companion so little that we can’t be bothered to try and improve standards? What is the matter with us?
I guess the reason why we can’t be bothered to put in place systems to improve cat welfare is because we are too busy trying to survive in a difficult world. We don’t have time for other creatures. Also we are somewhat egocentric and selfish aren’t we?
What Can We Do To Improve Domestic Cat Welfare?
Assuming that at some time in the future (I am dreaming) we decide to do something about cat welfare, I think there are some things we can do that would be acceptable to the majority of people.
Firstly we have to take into account the current state of affairs, which makes it almost impossible to make inroads into improving cat welfare.
We don’t know how many cats there are (we estimate) and a lot of people adopt cats from friends or find them on the street. It is a totally unregulated system.
And I know that most people don’t want or like regulation. Most people dislike the “nanny state” meaning government mothering citizens with all manner of laws. For a lot of people, there are too many laws already.
However, if cat welfare is to be improved there has to be a small amount of regulation imposed on cat owners. The whole process would have to be introduced very slowly to change the mindset of people. I am thinking about a 20 year program to begin to improve domestic cat welfare, to create a basis upon which improvements can be made.
Registration must be the starting point. Everything to do with improving cat welfare must start with building a database of ownership. A lot of people would not wish to register their cat but even if half did that would begin the process of improvement.
Veterinarians could be empowered under statute to ask cat owners to come in for obligatory microchipping or alternatively a ID tattoo in the ear.
At the time the cat owner comes in he or she is handed a pamphlet about basic cat caretaking. In addition the cat’s owner is automatically enrolled on a one day animal welfare/care course at the nearest college. Many colleges do animal care courses.
The courses would be funded by both the cat’s owner who’d pay a small fee, say £20 or $20 and the remainder of the funding would come from local government.
That is it. I’d give that 20 years to settle in. Then we could go to the next stage and perhaps widen the scope of animal welfare courses and even devise testing, while banning some people who demonstrated an inability to grasp the basic concepts of animal welfare.
The problem I pose on this page would be far more manageable with the above system in place.
I have two questions:
- Do you think that the standard of companion animal welfare should be improved? And if so…..
- What first steps would you put in place to make improvements?
The best answer gets a £25 Amazon gift voucher as a prize. The link (an example) points to UK Amazon but the offer applies to any country.
Rules: there needs to be at least 5 suggestions – sorry. Less than that and it is not a competition.