This in a short essay on cats as pets. It is deliberately written for students. Anyone can use it if they wish.
Today, strictly speaking, many people believe we should not refer to cats are “pets”. It is a slightly old-fashioned word. Certainly an excellent cat caretaker would probably not wish to describe the domestic cat as a “pet”. Why is that? After all the word “pet” and “companion animal” are interchangeable. They do, however, have slightly different connotations.
The word “pet” implies an animal that is kept mainly as company for a person; this is the pet’s role, whereas “companion animal” implies a relationship of equality in which both animal and human are companions to each other. Thus the phrase “companion animal” imports a respect for the domestic cat which leads to superior caretaking. This is the modern way or at least it is a desired goal for people concerned with cat welfare.
In addition, and on the other side of the coin, the cat owner is better described as a “guardian” or “caretaker”. These words support animal rights and welfare. In 2014, some local laws in North America and Europe incorporate these modern words reflecting a shift towards improved animals rights.
People who make a livelihood from animals such as veterinarians and cat breeders may have a tendency to resist changes towards greater animal rights as they may be concerned about the potential negative impact on their businesses. Another group who don’t want to see improved animal rights are people involved in keeping captive exotic cats such as small wild cat species or semi-domesticated wild cats such as the serval. They foresee greater restrictions on exotic cat ownership and the gradual elimination of exotic cats as pets. This applies particularly in the USA where, in general, there is a lax attitude by the legislators in respect of private exotic cat ownership.
In the West, the cat is on a more of less equal footing with the dog in popularity as a companion animal. However, as an estimate, there are slightly more housecoats than dogs worldwide. This is probably because the cat is considered to be easier to look after and thus more suitable in a more competitive and busy modern world.
In the East the dog is generally more popular because of its utility – it is considered more useful as a working animal in areas such as security.
Legally cats are considered as being in the ownership of a person and therefore in old-fashioned language are described as “chattels” (a piece of property or a possession). Some people believe this is an out-of-date concept because it fails to recognise that the cat is a sentient being connected emotionally to her human companion.
When deciding whether or not to adopt a cat as a pet, it is sensible to recognise the overall cost during the lifetime of the cat, which can be up to around $13,000. Being a good cat owner is not only about commitment and concern but also money.
It is well known that living with a cat as a pet has a beneficial effect on the health of the guardian. For example, sitting with and stroking a cat lowers a person’s heart rate. On the other side of the coin, about ten percent of the human population are allergic to cats. They are allergic to the a protein called Fel D1 in the cat’s saliva which is on cat dander circulating around a person’s home. Sometimes cat owners are scratched and bitten. This is commonly due to mishandling by the person or a failure to create an adequate environment. People who are scratched should seek medical attention as a nasty infection can set in.
Modern health problems in pet cats often follow those of their owners: obesity, diabetes, arthritis and stress related disorders.
Cats as pets requires a high standard of cat guardianship to avoid the pitfalls such as unwanted kittens due to a failure to neuter and abandonment to shelters due to poor planning which in some places leads to the almost inevitable euthanasia of the cat because of an excess of unwanted animals.
The very large number of cats as pets tells us how successful the cat has become as a companion to people.