This is a “cat thought” for Sunday 22nd June. It is a great day weather wise and I am in the garden. It sounds odd but the truth is that the domestic cat is ill suited to domestication unless he/she undergoes surgery. In other words the domestic cat, as born, requires modification. That is what we, the humans, insist on.
It is universally accepted that a male cat should have his testes removed (castration) and the female should undergo a far more serious operation and have her ovaries and uterus removed (“ovariohysterectomy”).A cat behaviorist asks what are the negatives and positives on cat behavior of spaying and neutering and she says there are no negative behavioral effects but there are plenty of positives. We know what they are. It stops male cats being quintessentially male cats; those core traits of territorial possession and procreation.
I should be emphasised that when the cat behaviorist says there are no negative behavior traits to neutering and spaying she means from her perspective and not the cat’s perspective.
If a person does not physically modify her/his cat (s)he is deemed to be irresponsible. We all agree that these operations should be mandatory – an admission that domestication is not wholly successful without surgical intervention. Just a thought.
We don’t just have to physically modify our cats, we have to mentally modify them too. This is called socialisation. Without being socialised a cat is not fully domesticated. Cats aren’t born fully domesticated. They inherit some domestic traits in their genes but they can go either way: into the wild state or become a house cat. It depends on socialisation.
Perhaps this is a strange way at looking at what we take for granted but to me it sheds some light on the whole project that is the domestication of the cat.
It also sheds some light, I believe, on why the declawing of cats exists and I am sorry to constantly bring it up. The advocates of declawing use many arguments to justify it and one of them is that if we have to surgically modify or remove our domestic cats’ reproductive organs why aren’t we allowed to modify their toes too? What is the difference? I see the reasoning but it is not good reasoning.
The difference is this. If we are to have domestic cats then spaying and neutering benefits the cat. It is a surgical procedure which is essentially therapeutic but I have to confess it is done for our benefit. We insist on spaying and neutering. The cat wouldn’t agree to it because it goes against nature, the survival of the species. All animals are hardwired for that. However, it is therapeutic because it makes the cat fit in better with the human’s lifestyle and there are direct and indirect health benefits.
Whereas declawing is also for the human’s benefit and is also designed (but often fails) to makes the cat fit in better with the human lifestyle (no scratched furniture), it is at heart non-therapeutic. There are no benefits whatsoever but there are plenty of negatives. You can see the stark difference immediately.