It is quite easy to rebut the arguments of the ailurophobe (cat haters and cat fearers).
Cat haters usually present four statements against the domestic cat:
- Your cat does not love you
- Your cat does not show you affection
- Your cat is an environmental disaster and;
- Your cat is driving you crazy through toxoplasmosis
These are the points made by Joseph Stromberg.
First there are two overriding points to make:
- We are should recognise that love and affection is a two-way street. Showing affection depends on us as well and how we relate to our cat.
- People who dislike cats will not get the best out of a cat and certainly not love and affection over the long term.
Here are the arguments against these weak points
Perhaps it is best to avoid the word “love” because I am not sure humans know what it means as it has been bandied around so recklessly over centuries. Let’s say the ailurophobe says that cats don’t care about their human guardians.
The argument is based on a study I have written about some time ago. The study concluded that cats don’t respond to your voice even when they recognise it. Therefore Stromberg says cats don’t care; they are disinterested in us. Another study he refers to found that cats are disinterested when owners depart and return home.
These studies are plain wrong or too limited. We all know cats are keen to welcome us home. My cat waits and looks at the front door. Just this afternoon when I came in from a walk he came to me in the bedroom and called to me to come over. As for the first study, the sample size was too small and therefore the study is too limited. Also my cat does respond to my voice and Dr Bradshaw (of Cat Sense) says that the study does not tell us that cats are not affectionate.
Only this morning my cat was at my feet on the bed. When I woke up, I called to him. He called back and shortly afterwards he got up, came over and lay on my chest with his head near mine. That is a complete rebuttal of the findings of the study.
I am sure other concerned cat caretakers have the same experiences as me. In addition, dogs are obsessively dependent on humans so when the cat is compared to dogs they seem aloof and disinterested. Dogs look to their humans for guidance while cats prefer to deal with things their way. Feline love is not needy. It is just a difference but it does not mean cats don’t care.
This cat hater says that when cats rub themselves against us they are marking territory. This is not a sign of affection. All the rubbing against us, in an apparent signs of affection, are no different to a dog peeing over something is what they say.
This is incorrect. Rubbing against us is not scent marking although it superficially it might look like it. It is scent exchange. It is social action. The cat merges scent with ours. Both of us feel better. It is a sign of friendship.
In addition cats rub against each other using parts of the body where there are no scent glands and they lie next to each other. This is not scent marking. Cats are known to have friendships with other cats. Other studies have established this. The word “friend” may be inappropriate for cats but they form close relationships which are what we would describe as friends.
Another study that the cat hater comes out with is the one where cats were found to dislike petting. The study was conducted in Brazil where there are lots of small dogs. It is probable that cat owners pet their cats too harshly in Brazil. A cat will like petting. It is just making sure it is the right kind of petting. It is not necessarily the kind that the human likes. This is the problem.
The cat hater invariably brings out this chestnut of an argument. Domestic cats, a non-native species, decimate native species. Dr Bradshaw says that the domestic cat is a clumsy hunter because cats learn to kill from their mother and if mother is a house cat she does not train her kittens to hunt.
Dr Bradshaw says that it is feral cats who do the hunting. Curfews keeping domestic cats inside in Australia had little impact on predation of native species.
In addition, studies on cat predation are often of limited use because the sample sizes are too small and you can’t extrapolate to nationwide domestic cat hunting. We don’t really know the true impact of domestic cats on wildlife. We do know that ornithologists like to paint the bleakest possible picture.
Dogs are worse than cats for the environment.
The Toxo Argument
The toxoplasma gondii protozoan in cat’s feces gets into out brains and makes us mad. That’s what cat haters say. It is 90% hype and sensationalisation. There are some risks to humans from this disease via the cat. For example, technically it is possible to get it through kissing your cat. But the risk of acquiring the disease from raw meat is far greater than through cat’s feces. Then there is no hard evidence it changes peoples’ personalities. Scientists of dubious credentials have written wildly exaggerated reports at how the protozoan causes sufferers to become schizophrenic and so on. This is simply untrue or unproved.
Toxplasmosis is widely present in people and cats and asymptomatic almost all the time.
I would urge ailurophobes to get to understand the domestic cat. Learn about the cat and you’ll find out that what I have stated on this page is correct.