Several cat euphemisms come to mind. Euphemisms are used to hide the reality of what we do. It is the act of substituting a vague or mild term for one which might be considered to be harsh or blunt. Humans are very good at it. Sometimes we don’t like to look at reality or think about it.
Euphemisms can be useful but they can also deflect us from the truth. We need to address the truth in order to be able to correct things that we do which are morally wrong. Therefore, euphemisms can hold us back from improving ourselves.
An unwillingness to change due to euphemisms applies to the world of domestic cats. Let’s start with a perfectly innocuous cat euphemism. The word is ‘scat’. The word means animal faeces or excrement. It is always used by scientists when conducting studies on cats. It is usually confined to studying the contents of sh*t in order to find out what an animal eats and therefore what the animal preys upon. Clearly we don’t like to think of animal poop (another euthemism)!
Euthanize or Euthanise
An example of a cat euphemism which dangerously perpetuates wrongdoings is “euthanasia” or “to euthanise”. The word means to kill humanely when an animal is seriously and chronically ill and suffering from an incurable disease and in chronic pain.
It’s an act of mercy and a moral act. The most important time when a cat owner euthanises their cat is at the end of the cat’s life because of a chronic illness due to old age.
A cat euphemism which has the same meaning is ‘to put an animal to sleep”. Unfortunately, both these euphemisms are frequently used when killing perfectly healthy animals, usually at cat rescue centres.
Another uncomfortable euphemism is “declawing” or “to declaw”. This euphemism implies that a veterinarian removes the claw of the cat. Sadly, this is far from the truth because a veterinarian removes that part of the cat’s toe which is beyond the last joint, times ten.
It is a partial amputation of each toe and a much more serious operation than simply removing the claw. Perhaps I am cynical but I would argue that veterinarians created this cat euphemism in order to promote declawing and to hide from cat owners the truth about the operation which is incredibly painful and which risks causing long-term health issues.
Sometimes we describe the domestic cat as a “meat eater”. The word “meat” is a euphemism which refers to the flesh of an animal. We use the word meat for ourselves in order to distance yourself from the fact that we are eating the flesh of an animal. People like to hide from the reality of how animals are slaughtered for our consumption. We like to reduce their flesh to something which is almost artificial on our plates.
Cull Breeding Cat
There is an interesting reverse cat euphemism which is the phrase “to cull a breeding cat”. This does not mean to kill a breeding cat but to simply remove the cat from the breeding program because she has an undesirable trait.
We should do away with cat euphemisms. The worst of these is ‘declawing’.