Citizens’ demand for freedom of choice undermines the quality of cat caregiving

I believe that with respect to cat ownership there should be a nanny state in the USA and in the UK or anywhere else for that matter. The word “nanny state” refers to a government interfering in the minutiae of day-to-day living. For many people it is objectionable. To good cat guardians it is not because it would not touch them. But I believe that people need this sort of structure imposed upon them to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of their companion animals. For me it is all about animal welfare.

There are two stories from the USA in the press online today which drive this point home. Both concern coronavirus. Americans love their freedoms and demand that they are not undermined. The best news on these issues comes from America.


Freedom of choice as to what kids wear at home when studying online. Photo: Photo: CHARLES CHERNEY, MBR.

A Springfield, Illinois school district has demanded that students being taught online must not wear pyjamas. It sounds a bit bizarre but they are insisting that the students working from home must get dressed to reflect the way they would behave if there were going to school.

I personally understand that point completely. It’s about mindset. If you drag your sorry arse out of bed and reluctantly do schoolwork online in your pyjamas you are not in a good mindset to do that work well. The regulation is about engendering standards. People need to be pushed into upping standards because they tend to let them go inside that temple that is theirs; the home.

One lady objected vehemently by saying, “I don’t think they have any right to say what happens in my house”. That reflects the demand of American citizens to maintain their freedoms, which is understandable but there are times when change is demanded. As an outsider, it appears to me that they hate having any of their freedoms stripped from them by a nanny state.

Wearing facemasks

In another, linked story, but on a wider basis, The Philadelphia Inquirer questions why American citizens are reluctant to wear face mask in order to protect others during the coronavirus. There is an enlightening Twitter feed video showing citizens objecting in the strongest language to the authorities who have said that facemask need to be worn. You can see it below and it sums up the attitude of some American citizens.

Cat caregiving

I want to address the concept of the nanny state and a citizen’s freedoms with respect to cat caregiving. Behind closed doors, inside the home, people do as they please and they want it to stay like that but we also know that cat ownership standards need to be raised. It isn’t just in the USA, it is anywhere else in the world. The evidence of this necessity is in the numbers of unwanted cats at shelters. There are too many. The numbers are falling compared to the 1970s but they are still in their millions and many are euthanised; a sign of failure in cat domestication. That failure comes about because of freedoms which allows irresponsible cat owners to do as they please and their standards are too low.

There is a range of micromanagement regulations that could be instigated by local authorities at the city or county level which would improve cat ownership standards and they are well known. You can even have a psychological profile test questionnaire for those people wishing to adopt from animal rescue centres in addition to the existing questionnaires. The idea would be to ensure that the person is suited to owning a cat or dog.

Obligatory microchipping is necessary backed up by spot checks. Local authorities should hire a small number of people, say three, to go into the neighbourhood spot checking homes to see whether the cats inside have been micro-chipped. The knowledge that a person might be spot checked would dramatically help to enforce such a law which is inherently difficult to enforce.

Obligatory spaying and neutering is another aspect of cat ownership that has been discussed endlessly which could be introduced and enforced in a similar manner.

It should be obligatory to adopt a shelter cat over purchasing a purebred cat from a breeder. That sort of regulation should be in place until there were no unwanted cats at shelters within the jurisdiction of the local authority. Then people could start to buy cats if they wanted to. It is nice to see pet stores being banned from taking supplies of pets from puppy and kitten mills.

All these nanny state ideas would be rejected probably out of hand by citizens because it is an interference in their freedoms. But if people are serious about improving companion animal welfare they will consider introducing them. It means that local authorities must become unpopular in the interests of animal welfare at least initially. People will get used to it and they will see the improvement and then they would probably thank the authorities who imposed these Draconian rules upon them.

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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