Did we screw up the domestication of the cat?
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?
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.