Categories: cat welfare

A link between women’s love of cats and their concern for fairness and compassion?

There’s a huge study out at the moment from the University of Southern California concerning a third of a million people in 67 countries. Although it is obviously wrong to generalise, the scientists found that women say that they are more concerned about the virtues of fairness, compassion and moral purity than men. And it is also worth mentioning that in societies where there is greater equality between the sexes, there are greater differences between them too in their behaviour. This is because in a more equal society women have a greater opportunity to express their personal desires and motivations. The most gender-equal countries are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Nicaragua. In these countries I would expect the concern of women for the virtues of fairness and compassion to be expressed more than in less gender-equal countries. Is domestic, stray and feral cat welfare better in these countries?

Woman cuddles a cat. Photo: Shutterstock.


In a study from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, reported by The Daily Mail online, in August 2018, it was concluded that women form closer relationships with their pet cats the men. Women form stronger bonds and are more empathetic. They’re more likely to initiate interactions because they believe that their cat wants the attention and they respond to that need. This is ultimately about a concern for fairness and compassion because cats are at the mercy of humans.

Domestic cats are inherently vulnerable if we are honest in the human world. Clearly they are often very well cared for but sadly it is often the case that they are not. In a fairer world the quality of domestic cat welfare would be higher. It is still a man’s world. If the opposite were true you’d expect dramatic improvements in domestic cat welfare across the planet. The wild cat species would benefit too.

Women’s greater concern for compassion is evident in their voluntary work in managing feral cat colonies in the United States. There are some men involved but women numbers dominate the TNR programs.

Christy the face of TNR. Photo: Darren McDonald. Source: Sooke News Mirror

As an aside, and perhaps this is simply coincidental, countries run by women such as New Zealand, Thailand, Germany and Bangladesh have, it appears, dealt with the coronavirus crisis more successfully than those run by men! I suppose it depends how you assess the success of the country in this context. Do the journalists say that success means they have saved more lives or do they mean that they have saved more lives while protecting the economy in the most successful way? I hope it’s the latter because it is relatively straightforward to save lives. You simply lock everybody up for a year in their homes if that’s feasible. But to save the economy simultaneously is much harder. It’s about a balancing act between two competing objectives.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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