Did we screw up the domestication of the cat?

by Michael

Let us cast our minds back to about ten thousands years ago, when we lived as hunter-gatherers. There were many wild cats of all species at that time. There were lions in Greece until AD 100 for example.

There must have been the first domestic cat. At one point in time there was one domestic cat in the world. We think that was about 10,000 years ago but it could be have been earlier. The purpose of that first domestication was that is was mutually beneficial to cat and human otherwise it would not have happened. In respect of that first domestic cat, the domestic cat world was in perfect harmony. That was the best moment in the history of the domestic cat! This is because on a global scale both parties to the act of domestication benefited. It has been downhill ever since to a point today where it could be argued that we have a form of domestic cat chaos. Now in a global sense, there is a gross imbalance in the relationship. It is not surprising, is it? In retrospect do you think the wild cat should have been domesticated?

When we sit at home with our cat on our lap things are harmonious in respect of the domestic cat in our world. But if we cast our minds wider we see the reality. Here are some examples of our failure in respect of the domestication of the cat:

– 20 million domestic cats declawed in the USA. Legalised mutilation. This operation was not part of the unwritten deal when domestication first took place. The wildcat did not say that we could chop off all the toes of his paws for our convenience as part of the domestication deal.

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– 2 million cats deliberately killed each year in the USA. Countless more millions killed throughout the world deliberately each year for various unjustifiable reasons.

– Countless hundreds of thousands perhaps millions brutally killed for their fur. The fur in your gloves is probably domestic cat fur.

– Hundreds of millions of feral cats in the world should be domestic cats. The feral cat was not part of the cat domestication deal. We domesticated the European and African wildcats. The idea was not then to send the domestic out into the wild having been domesticated. Feral cats are a sign of our failure in respect of the domestication of the wildcat. Feral cats by and large lead miserable lives. It would have been better if they had not been born. We created that discontent in hundreds of millions of feral cats.

It is impossible to argue that the domestication of the wildcat has been a success. On any measurement is has been a failure. Yes, there are millions of contented domestic cats and people in homes throughout the world but the price has been too high due to our carelessness and excess. You have to weigh the overall benefits against the overall losses and in my view the losses outweigh the benefits in a global assessment of the success or failure of the domestication of the wildcat.

We screwed up. What do you think?

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Did we screw up the domestication of the cat?

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Dec 04, 2011
Did We screw up
by: Kay Zirkel @ Serenity Farm Benton City WA. USA

Has any one noticed how every time mankind ” Fixes” an animal situation mankind screws it up even more? Not just the domestic cat. Look what has happened to all the species of animals man has messed with, from dogs to livestock. Mankind believes that only they can make the worlds animal populations balance and act on a manner that man desires. Mankind has destroyed more species in the last 100 years than nature could have ever have replenished in 1000 years. As a species we, as the dominant animal on this small blue planet have developed into the most destructive and short sighted of all of earths creature. Sad, so very sad indeed.

Dec 04, 2011
Yes we did
by: Ruth

A very deep, well thought out and interesting article and I agree with you entirely Michael.
What started out as a mutual agreement between us and felines has gradually become too one sided as we have taken over more and more of cats natural lives.
It is becoming worse too as some people think it’s their right to own wild cats, to interbreed them and to profit financially by doing that.
It’s wrong that half wild/half dometic kittens can be bought by anyone who has the money to do so.
If this is allowed to go on there will eventually be no cats of some species left, we know some breeds are becoming extinct all the time.
Declawing is the dreadful result of people who began keeping cats strictly indoors and assumed because they didn’t face the dangers there are outside these days, that they didn’t need their claws to defend themselves.
What price ten (or 18) amputations in exchange for a cosy home and plenty of food. I think every cat would rather have taken his chance in his natural world than have paid that price.
A long, safe but boring and often pain filled existence with barely any quality of life, or freedom albeit it a dangerous freedom ?
If I was a cat I know which I’d choose !
It’s the luck of the draw. Some cats are lucky to live with people who truly love and understand them and who realise that declawing cats is very cruel and that indoor cats need stimulation to make up for their lost freedom.
Some cats are unlucky to live with people who want to control and stop their natural behaviour and if the cat doesn’t conform, he is turned out to fend for himself.
His basic instinct might help him survive for a while but in this world of some cat hating humans his life is fraught and full of hardship and he won’t have a long life.
Cats are used for their fur, for experimenting on, even for eating by some people.
I agree with anonymous, humans coming along were the worst thing that could happen to cats and to other animals too.
In our overbreeding, arrogance and lust for power and control and endless new inventions at the cost of the environment, we upset the balance of Nature.
Animals, birds and fish are paying the price for us.
How very wrong !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Dec 04, 2011
Cat’s nakba
by: Anonymous

The Lord God screwed up when He made humans. Humans are cosmic f–kups, and so they screw everything up. Things are likely to sort out when humans are extinct, if they have not obliterated the planet and all species before that.

Anyway you look at it, people are a rum deal.

In the meanwhile, I try to make up this cosmic “nakba” to my cats best as I am able.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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1 Response

  1. kitty says:

    I agree about some things but not everything:
    – “- 20 million domestic cats declawed in the USA. ”
    100% agree about declawing being mutilation. I think it should be outlawed. However, the majority of cats in the world are not declawed, even the majority of cats in the US are not declawed.

    – “2 million cats deliberately killed each year in the USA. Countless more millions killed throughout the world deliberately each year for various unjustifiable reasons.”

    True. However, the survival rate of cats in the wild is very low. Nature is cruel. Many kittens die of diseases, if they aren’t able to find food, etc. All of the diseases our cats are vaccinated against or treated do happen in the wild.

    – “Countless hundreds of thousands perhaps millions brutally killed for their fur. The fur in your gloves is probably domestic cat fur.”

    The same thing applies to wild animals. Also, it usually happens in countries where cats aren’t kept as pets.

    Regarding ferals leading miserable life – the life of a feral is not that, especially in a managed colony. With TNR and vet visits, ferals can live just fine. I think a lot of people say that ferals’ life is miserable to justify killing them. And really, who are we to judge if their life is miserable? Also, in the wild, cats get sick and die just as quickly, they often don’t live long enough to get old age diseases.

    Also one small error “We domesticated the European and African wildcats” – our cats came from African wildcats, we didn’t domesticate European wildcats, they are untameable, among the fiercest of cats. African wildcats on the other hand are very easily tameable, even adult ones.

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