The coronavirus pandemic is escalating rapidly in the United States, as at the date of this post. There were 121,888 new cases of Covid-19 in the US according to data from John Hopkins University. Over the past seven days there have been more confirmed cases in the US than all of the cases in Germany over the entirety of the pandemic (source: The Times).
Mr Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, in the US, told The Washington Post:
There’s been officials debating whether to continue telling people to do things, because they know many are not going to listen.
What he said sums up, I believe, Americans’ love of their freedoms. This is what they, at least partly, loved about the outgoing President Trump. He embodied a freewheeling approach to life. Although he relied on courts both in his business life and politically to try and enforce his will, he has a tendency to ride roughshod over the law, rules and norms of society. His supporters like this. This is borne out in the statistic that according to the Associated Press, 93% of US counties with the highest rate of new infections voted for Mr Trump.
This tells us that Americans love their freedoms and want minimal interference through federal and state legislation which restricts those freedoms. They want to make their own minds up on how to live their lives. They reject the nanny state as it’s called.
What has this got to do with cats, you may well ask? We know that America has a feral cat problem, as it is described. What they mean is there are too many feral cats littering urban areas. We also know that, ultimately, feral cats are the product of careless domestic cat ownership. In order to tackle the feral cat problem you could argue that restriction should be in place in America on a state-by-state basis which enforces higher standards in cat ownership on the minority who fall below acceptable standards. But this won’t happen because Americans love their freedoms.
There have been countless arguments on a county level within American states where the administrators have discussed placing restrictions on cat ownership and on methods to deal with feral cats such as not feeding them. In each case there’s been a backlash and heated debate. These proposals tend not to get past the legislative process because people don’t want rules and restrictions on anything to do with their cats. In some instances they reject legislation because it’s essentially cruel. I’m referring to not feeding feral cats; a bad idea because people put them there and this applies to anywhere in the world, obviously.
But restrictions on the number of cats that people can keep in their homes or the idea of curfews in preventing domestic cats going outside at night, are pretty well nonstarters in America. This is in contrast to Australia, for instance, where states and administrators of cities have genuinely discussed restrictions on cat ownership. But even in their country where people are more compliant with the idea of restrictions, there is difficulty in making them work because of a lack of enforcement. Ultimately, it is impossible to enforce this kind of animal law. You need, full voluntary cooperation where the attitude of the citizens comes into play.
When governments cannot improve domestic cat guardianship through the introduction of laws, people deal with feral cats reactively by which I mean they shoot them in the countryside or euthanise them at shelters. This is a second best solution as it is cruel, unfair and a reflection on society’s lack of desire to deal with the problem at root.