Should a mentally ill person be allowed to keep a cat?

Should a mentally ill person be allowed to keep a cat? I don’t think that this question has been asked before. I think it is a reasonable question. But please don’t misunderstand me. A cat companion to a person who has mental health issues and who is perhaps vulnerable from a mental health standpoint, may receive great benefit from looking after a domestic cat. That is the upside; that is the good aspect of this story.

And the story is that a British woman, 23 years of age, living near Barnsley in the North of England, with a history of mental health problems including being sectioned under the Mental Health Act 20 times, placed her cat in a microwave and turned it on for 5 minutes because she claims that her cat attacked her goldfish.

Her name is Laura Cunliffe and her cat was a 4-month-old kitten that she had named Mowgli. Laura was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

Woman who microwaved her cat
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Her cat died 90 minutes after being removed from the microwave. We can only imagine the hellish pain that this kitten went through. It is a clear case of horrific cat cruelty. She was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail.

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There are many people who would argue that the sentence is far too short. She has also, incidentally, been banned from keeping animals for life and she cannot appeal the court judgement for at least 5 years.

Someone in the gallery in the court shouted out, β€œshe doesn’t know what’s happening–she hasn’t a clue”. And there is the problem. Should Laura, in the first place, have had the opportunity to look after a cat? Clearly not, must be the response.

The answer to the question in the title to this article is that some mentally ill people should not be allowed to look after a cat. We don’t allow some mentally ill mothers to look after their newborn baby. The baby is taken into care immediately upon birth. This happens routinely in the United Kingdom.

Clearly, we do not treat, in this country, the cat companion, from a legal standpoint in the same way that we treat a human companion and that has to be accepted and acknowledged. However, many families treat their cat companion as a member of the family and I think a little more respect is due in the form of protection for the domestic cat.

The only way to exercise that sort of protection would be to register cat ownership on a central database and then cross reference that with any person who has been recorded as having mental health issues. Most people won’t approve that and politicians will not create the law. I am sure that there are databases that contain information regarding the mental health of people and whether they are a danger to themselves and others. Cross-referencing, as suggested, would, I propose, help project a cat that was as vulnerable as Mowgli. May he rest in peace.

  1. Source – sometimes external links break. I can’t help that.
  2. I respect and am tender towards all people with mental health issues.
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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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86 Responses

  1. Amy says:

    “I respect and am tender towards all people with mental health issues.” Nice little add on to your column, a little late but it is there. Guess you upset too many people with very strong opinions which with your lack of sympathy.
    Also love how another person can express what you were feeling and thinking and you are unable to yourself.

    • Amy you’re talking a load of BS. Really. Are you a troll? You sound as if you are. You don’t know me. You don’t know how tender I am to the vulnerable; and people with mental health issues are vulnerable as are cats and all animals in the human world. I do have an opinion and I express it but they’re not strong views. It may seem that I have strong opinions about things. I don’t, it is just that most webpages on the Internet about cats are bland and people avoid expressing their opinion perhaps because they do not have one.

      There is no doubt in my mind that you have deliberately set out to annoy me and you have succeeded but that will be the end of it. Don’t bother to make any further comments unless they are reasonable and unless they don’t insult people without good cause.

  2. Caroline says:

    Jo, great article. Certainly raised my hackles, didn’t it? And that is one of the delights about PoC, besides the facts and anecdotes that are available in the archives. I must tell you that I truly think that you are The cat’s meow for having written this brilliant! article on a subject that is so sensitive (understatedly so).

  3. Barbara says:

    I think that maybe being mentally ill isn’t the criteria for the evil that this woman did, I think she is rotten to the core, right through to her soul and whether she was mentally ill or perfectly healthy I think she would still have done it. There is good or there is evil, mentally sound people can be either, mentally ill people can be either. This smirking woman is evil, I personally wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger given half a chance for what she did. She brings down good, kind, mentally ill people by associating herself with them.

  4. Amy says:

    Really opened a can of worms here Micheal!!! It induced a rage in me that I have not felt in quite a while. You have stooped to a new low level. I have a daughter who suffers from a couple different diagnosis of mental illness, from Bi-Polar disorder, panic disorder to name two. She was diagnosed when she was in her very early teens and now is in her 40s.She is unable to work because of these disorders and her pets are her life. She would NEVER in her wildest dreams ever ever hurt any animal.You cannot make this a one thing covers all topic. There has been a registry bill suggested, but so far it has not been passed. I agree that one should be made BUT only after the person has been convicted under the law, whether they are mentally ill or not. To deny a person pets ownership on just that premise ” mental illness” is so wrong. Countless pets would have to be euthanized just because a person carries a “label” for life. Oh speaking of labels you have your own it seems. “Sometimes you have to engage in this sort of tabloid activity because there is a part of society who read tabloid newspapers.”

    • Amy I am asking a question, no more. I am not labelling all people with mental health issues as incapable of caring for a cat. Far from it. I am just asking. Clearly some people with mental health issues are not capable of caring for a cat and some are. Sometimes the mental illness itself prevents the person from being able to look after cat.

      With respect I don’t like your phrase ,”You have stooped to a new low level” because it implies I have stooped to low levels regularly which I categorically reject with passion.

      • Caroline says:

        Forgive me for interjecting a thought on Amy’s behalf, but I am certain that she did not mean to include that. It is all to easy to blurt out something that wasn’t what was intended, when the subject matter is offensive and leaves one feeling quite vulnerable! at least, this was true of me, even as an ailurophile normally feeling quite comfortable on PoC, Michael.

        • Caroline says:

          By the way, I suffer from military-inflicted PTSD from some thirty years ago. Now have what might be labeled as agoraphobia.

          • kylee says:

            really hugs i know caroline its hard as my sister in christchurch in nz as the post traumatc stres due to the earthquakes.

          • What did you do in the military, Cal?

            • Caroline says:

              Okay, here it is. I wan’t going to to attempt to explain my agoraphobia nor my other silly issues on your site. But I guess I need to now, since I made such a mess of things. πŸ™

              Well, I was a brilliant person when I was seventeen and joined the military. The problem was that I did not have a clue as to what actually went on in adulthood. (I had never known.)
              To make a long story short, I had a nervous breakdown due to sexual trauma and never got a chance to continue my brilliant career.

              • I’d love to know what you did to express your brilliance. How did you use your brilliance?

              • Dee (Florida) says:

                Carolyn, agoraphobia, is by no means a silly issue. And, you are not silly.
                It’s pretty apparent to me how very bright you are. Some of your comments have blown me away.
                What were your aspirations?
                Please share with us. It’s safe here.
                And, it can never be said enough, “Thank you for your service.”

          • Amy says:

            Caroline thank you for trying to help with the article about “Should Mentally Ill Folks Own Pets”. Also another HUGE thank you for serving in the military. I am also a veteran who served in the Army back in 1961 -1964. I am truly sorry you suffered such a traumatic experience which cut short you dreams. I responded to his reply to my comments. Again thank you so much.

        • Thanks Cal. It is no big deal to me. I didn’t appreciate her comment. I don’t think the article is offensive. It is exploring difficult ground. It is like trying to talk about immigration in the UK. As soon as you do you’re branded a racist when you are not.

          • Caroline says:

            Michael, this article, this article that Jo wrote, never intending it to be hurtful in any guise, hit with a bit of an unintended shockwave, metaphorically. That, I believe is key. Many of us with our gnawed-to-the-bone skeletons in our dark little closets, and many of us, who so intimately love and empathise with those closest to us who themselves feel that they wear the letter “A” emblazoned on their chest, over-analyze and judge. I think that this was not, perhaps, the best “venue” in which to engage in such? πŸ™‚ Jo? You have my respect. You know this, by now. I am not criticizing the article, and I do believe that you know I am not. It was not intended to be anything but illustrative and constructive on the cat’s behalf!

            I’m sorry for responding and causing anybody to feel that they need to rethink what they might have done differently. I fully believe that this article was intended to be constructive. And, I also fully believe that it is. πŸ™‚

      • Amy says:

        Michael I will not apologize for the statement about “stooping to a new low level”. What I meant was that for as many of your contributing articles/responses I have read, they have been more impartial and not one sided as this one seemed. It was meant to stir animal lovers up. Believe it or not I DO NOT read tabloids because I consider them trash. I imagine that this wonderful site will lose a few more people because of what was written about the mentally ill and whether they should be allowed to own pets.

        • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

          But it isn’t one sided Amy. Michael writes an article on important issues and we all get a chance to say without moderation, what our thoughts are on the subject. So both sides are aired, which I think is good because far too much which affects animals is hidden away.
          Mowgli was murdered horribly by someone who should not have been allowed to have a living creature in her charge and wouldn’t have had if it was known what sort of a person she is.
          There should be a register of people who are a danger to animals.

          • Amy says:

            Yes I know what happened to Mowgli, this has happened in America more than once also to several different animals not just cats. It is a unbelievable crime, which should not have happened. Nice of you to speak up for Michael which is your right and I respect that. There are a few points which I did not like. (1) The topic seemed very one sided in my opinion. (2) He also keeps referring to Tabloids as if that they are the only thing in print.I do understand this column is mainly about cats, and it does every once in a while refer to “other” pets. This article should have covered a wider spectrum of animals/pets. I agree that some people with mental illness should not own pets, but to say none of them should is so wrong. Does this law want everyone to take a mentality test before getting the okay to hopefully “ADOPT” a animal?

            • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

              I speak up for anyone who is in the right and yes I do believe there should be a law that people should take a mentality test before being allowed a pet.
              Maybe we feel more strongly about the welfare of animals here in England, I myself am particularly passionate about cats and their welfare.
              One example is declawing, if that was happening here we’d be out on the streets with information tables and posters and petitions, we wouldn’t stand for vets mutilating cats that way, we’d get it stopped by fair means or foul. Yet it still goes on in America decade after decade.
              I respect your views, of course I do and it’s good we are adult enough here on PoC to be able to have a reasonable discussion without falling out.

            • Amy You did not read the article? I did not say that all people with mental health issues should not keep cats. I initially asked the question and then in the article itself I said this:

              The answer to the question in the title to this article is that some mentally ill people should not be allowed to look after a cat.

              Now what does that look like? Can you read Amy? I suggest that you become less enthusiastic about insulting people and keener on being accurate. As for Ruth, she is a very fine person.

              • Amy says:

                Micheal losing your professionalism a little? To attack me at such a childish level is not called for. “NOW WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE? CAN YOU READ AMY?” I have not intentionally insulted anyone except you. I admit you got me really enraged with the article. I also maybe should have calmed down a bit before I wrote my reply.
                I have read many responses defending you, including Ruth which I have no problem with. They have their own opinion and they have a right to express it. I have not challenged or responded with the exception of the lady who had a traumatic experience while in the military. If YOU go back to your article you recommend everyone who wants a cat should sign some kind of form/registry,not just some people. I agree with the concept but I don’t know how it could be enforced. How can you convince people to sign forms other than the original adoption papers. Many people in my opinion might see that as a violation of their rights and invasion of their privacy.

  5. Cal, I just like to ask questions, even when they are difficult ones and even when I don’t know the answer. Sometimes you have to engage in this sort of tabloid activity because there is a part of society who read tabloid newspapers. PoC has to serve a wide audience and try and address new cat topics.

    • kylee says:

      Yep its good to ask the Questions as it does make well one think n awaresness michael ur just so wonderful and making us so aware of things.

      • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

        I agree with Kylee, Michael is brave enough to bring issues like this out into the open, as not many people dare to do.
        It doesn’t mean he is prejudiced, it simply means asking questions and getting peoples opinions and this encourages people to talk about things instead of keeping them hidden.
        Mental illness is not to be ashamed of but there are truly evil people who get away with horrible crimes by pretending to be mentally ill, so the more awareness about all this, the better for the sake of animals.

  6. Caroline says:

    That was a poor attempt at a joke, given the horrendous images and scenarios. The “image” in your article was created in our minds by the description. The description is horrendous. It is one of our worst nightmares in this world of ours. Let me just say, that no person who is psychotic, nor any individual who has not been given a psych eval yet displays behavior indicative of, should be allowed to NOT undergo a psychiatrist’s care. Now, let’s talk about the laws that should be in place to protect animals from such persons. Is this what you were getting at? I’m a little slow. πŸ™‚

    • kylee says:

      YYep thats what i meant, as there are some out there who should never ever have access to animals. Esp when they been Proven to have abused an animal. if they applied everything just cause u have mental health issues it would be very sad. It saddens me to hear in u.k how with the welfare how people are denied and even though they really not good or cant walk they still have such prejudices

      • Caroline says:

        Let me just tell you this. There are many people out there in this vast, yet small world of ours, who have committed what could be deemed “atrocities” in their own eyes, based on their morals… And yet, should they be punished under the guiding good? No, for they did not mean to do wrong.

        I think that this is the point that Michael was trying to make. It is a quandary. What do you do? When have you the right to judge others for wrongdoing? Please remember that he is a retired solicitor in the U.K. He poses Q’s because that is his job, esp. when it comes to the nature of the “beast,” in this case our tormentor, Felis catus, et. al.

        • Caroline says:

          I was too quick to the draw, there. “…our beloved, their tormentor, Homo sapiens.”

          • Caroline says:

            wow. got way ahead of myself while keying. I hope you get the gist of what I am trying to convey. We, as healthy, yet ignorant, individuals can sometimes do harm, unknowingly to our next of kin, our siblings, our parents, our children, our pets. This does not make us able to purposefully HURT anyone of them. When we make a mistake, which is not physical, but maybe emotional, it does not make us a bad person. [sorry, being as simplistic as I can] The thing is, WE LEARN from our mistakes. even healthy animals do this. The difference btwn a “mentally ill” person, by Michael’s def. as I understand it is that WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES, and we do not repeat them. Those that engage in behaviors that are physically destructive, like the examples given above, well, let’s just say that they should be put in custody and given therapy and eval. for a very long time.

            • Good point Cal. An aspect of the behavior of a person with mental health issues is that sometimes they have difficulty caring properly for themselves and when that happens it is unlikely that they will care properly for their cat. There is no maliciousness involved it is simply a question of ability in coping with life. And believe me I am extremely sympathetic towards people who struggle to cope. Life can be harsh.

              • Caroline says:

                Yes, Life can be harsh, as we all well know. But that does not mean that you should tower above your cherished, thinking that you deserve better than the next character in your life’s drama… perhaps your cat, or maybe a human loved one. Get down on the [ground] floor and play. It might do us you, and us, a world of good. xx

          • Caroline says:

            As Felis catus, our tormentor Homo sapiens [god, what would Linnaeus have said about that Latin?] is what it should have read. πŸ˜‰

        • Thanks Cal. I agree. If a mentally ill person hurts a cat and does it because of the mental illness the person should be treated and cared for (and not punished) but the person should not be allowed to care for a cat until it was certain the illness was under control.

          • Caroline says:

            And it may be that that client should neverbe given that opportunity. But then, how are you, as a caregiver, social worker, attorney/solicitor or judge to control that? are we done with this conversation, yet? …<3 hopefully, not.

  7. kylee says:

    Well i suffer from depression and anxiety and would never ever in my life do something like she did, it would just break my heart. Thats just so wrong and cruelty.I think each different person with mental illness is different unless they have been judged of some of cruelness i.e psychic or major not knowing things right or wrong.

    • Caroline says:

      And you are not alone, Kylee. Many of us who show the sensitivity needed to care for our beloved cats and animals do suffer from depression and anxiety (myself included), whether situational, generalized, acute. Many times it is said, that if we didn’t, we would not be true ailurophiles. <3

      • kylee says:

        Thanks im not always sure when i actually say what ive got, if i turn people away. Most of my illness is very well hidden. When people look at me they think i look normal and dont have any probs. Its not until you mention that affects you sometimes it can affect me. In my later life in my 30’s i developed hge empthany towards animals and started feeling more things than i ever did. It would cut me up inside when people do cruety. It just does my head in sometimes.

        • Caroline says:

          Kylee, honey, this is due to the suffering that you and I, and many like us, have experienced. Without it, our species, nor other species, can know what empathy is. There are many species outside of our own ilk, who experience empathy. If I had my druthers, I would say that any species who suffers is subject to these feelings.

    • I think each different person with mental illness is different

      Excellent point Kylee. Thank you. It depends on the type of illness and how it affects the person and the sort of medication. Clearly you love cats and care really well for cats but sometimes people with mental health problems have difficulty caring for themselves and that makes caring for a cat, adequately, unlikely.

      • kylee says:

        Yep very true, Yea im well medicated. I do agree that when people arent on the straight and narrow they can do things that are not good for the animals. It makes good awareness got there that more education is needed so animals are protected

  8. Jo Singer says:

    Writing as a retired psychotherapist- it is indeed extremely difficult, if not impossible- to be able to determine how a pet might be treated by someone with mental illness.

    Additionally, at least here in the USA- unfortunately pets are not considered as “important” as babies or young children- so monitoring how the cat is being cared for- or if potentially dangerous situations might arise for pets being kept by people with mental illness would more than likely never happen.

    At this time, the only way to prevent someone having a pet is after they have been found guilty for a crime of cruelty to animals. Such was the case with Michael Vick and his Bad Newz Kennel- after being found guilty of cruelty to animals- he was not permitted to own a pet for a couple of years after he was released from prison. Now he can.

    It is indeed a pity that controls such as these are only put in place after someone has been found guilty of animal cruelty. There is no way to predict how anyone will treat an animal- whether or not they are mentally ill.

    I cringed at the your story, Michael-and of course this person should never be permitted to have another pet, but realistically it would be very difficult to monitor if she was in compliance with the law. It is indeed very sad and extremely frustrating.

    • Caroline says:

      Must be great, to be there on the “Armchair-side,” Jo. πŸ˜‰

      • Jo Singer says:

        LOL I wish it had ben on the “armchair-side”.

        I will open myself up enough to tell you that when I was a teenager I was hospitalized for “mental” illness- because I was an angry teenager and extremely rebellious. I dropped out of high school, ran away from home- my parents fought all the time- I could hardly bear to be around. I hung out with a motorcycle gang- I took drugs- was arrested and placed on probation- and if I violated the rules would have ended up in jail.

        If it weren’t for a very kind, considerate probation officer that I will never forget- I would have totally lost it. It was then that I made the decision to become a therapist and work with troubled kids, and show them the respect and compassion that was shown to me by my P.O.

        So that is what I did for more than 40 years- certainly not in an armchair- in the trenches actually.

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          My teen years were about the same, Jo.
          Quit H.S. to live with my boyfriend and in a hippie commune.
          Drugs, “free love”, Woodstock, run in with the law, etc.
          My folks thought I had lost my mind and had me dragged to a “hospital” for a 3 day evaluation.
          I was almost 20 y/o before I made a turnaround.

          • Jo Singer says:

            Wow Caroline, you are singing my song! I never made it to Woodstock, but I tried… and I did live in a sort of “commune” with a bunch of hippies for quite a long time.

            We do have a lot in common!

          • Caroline says:

            I have not idee what you this conversation is about πŸ™‚ btwn Dee and Jo, but I need a small space in which to write, right now. This will have to do.

            I abhor people and individuals who are cruel, which I never have been. πŸ™ I was institutionalized for much longer than you. Didn’t eat; was called “Snow White” by the interns there at the military 70’s hospital, [Ft. Ord, no longer “extant”] and I guess I must have been “pretty darn” innocent and ‘cute’ cuz suddenly all the young spec 5’s. 6’s and SG4’s and 5’s and ALL the Officers cared about me, lying there in my bed, getting paler and skinnier, and as a piece of unsolidified Jello. Including electroshock, which, given that I was a teenager still, and my mother told them, 2,000 miles away, do whatever you need to do; we don’t have a clue…

    • Caroline says:

      Blah…blah…What changes are YOU making to the judcial system, JO? I can do what I can as a layperson, but WHAT are YOU DOING to make a difference? Writing dull articles on PoC? All words and no action is not going to get your very far in your retirement.

      • Dee (Florida) says:

        Way over the top, Carolyn.
        Jo’s articles aren’t anywhere near boring.

        • Agreed. Cal knows she is over the top on some of these comments. We have to respect each other’s opinion. One thing Cal does not understand is that it is not easy writing articles as it exposes the writer to ridicule or criticism as well as praise.

          Jo is a good and popular writer.

        • Caroline says:

          Yes, it was Dee. πŸ™ That was out of character. I was in a very bad place mentally. I have a real problem with any semblance of arrogance, even misinterpreted. And when you combine that with donating plasma, stupidity, vodka, lack of sleep…you end up with a REAL mess of latent, repressed anger misdirected at Jo. She did nothing to deserve my tirade.

          • Jo Singer says:

            Caroline, after reading your comment, however, I had to examine my motives for introducing that comment “as a retired psychotherapist”. To be perfectly honest, (and Michael can attest to this) I am very insecure about my writing- my opinions, etc. There is a part of me that “thinks” that if I show my “degrees” it authenticates me somehow and justifies what I am writing about. It is one of my darndest quirks and somehow I just can come out directly without having to prove my credentials. So you really helped me to see this, and to openly disclose that nagging part of me- my internal critic that works overtime.

          • Dee (Florida) says:

            OK, Carolyn.
            I’m no stranger to Mr.Absolut myself.
            He’s a sneaky bastard!

      • Dee (Florida) says:

        Caroline, I would love it if you could write some articles about what your contribution is to animal, especially, cat welfare.

        • Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

          Yes I agree, come on Caroline, we have lots of comments from you and I too would love to read an article written by you.
          I’ve been ‘slated’ a few times for my opinions but I can’t be who I’m not and won’t pretend to be either or be a ‘yes woman’ just to please others. I think the older you get the less you care what people may say about you but even so at a feeling vulnerable time it does hurt.

      • Jo Singer says:

        I would very much like to know why you attacked me, Caroline? Have I inadvertently hurt you?

        You don’t know what I am doing to make a difference in this world .. you don’t know much about me. In fact, I worked for years with families, chidren, addicts, in methadone clinics, in psychiatric clinics, etc.

        you comment was hurtful- why the attack?

        • Caroline says:

          I was wrong, Jo. You are very kind to even ask me why. It was stupidity on my part, and ignorance. And maybe, a little bit that I did not get feedback from you on how Sir Hubble Pinkerton was doing. I didn’t even know that he had made it back home. But then, that is entirely my fault, again. <3 Will you accept my full apology?

          • Jo Singer says:

            Thanks Caroline! That means a lot to me, especially since I enjoy your posts so much, and was enjoying our interchanges.

            This said, I actually did reply to you about Sir Hubble and thanked you for asking about him. I have found that sometimes finding replies can be rather tricky. I think you asked about him on my blog about unlocking secrets

            It is the very last comment on the bottom addressed to you from me. It might roll up if anyone else comments, but it is there.

            I accept your apology completely, and am very glad that we aired this out, since I value your posts and comments.

            • Caroline says:

              From where I sit, we understand each other (and yet, I still was fully in the wrong); and you, Jo? you most definitely have my full respect. By the way, my daughter is going for her MSW in SUDP. I was not the best single parent when she turned fourteen because of situational depression that I should have been able to handle, yet couldn’t due to my alcohol abuse. Thank goodness, you were wise, and used your vulnerabilities to do constructive things. I truly respect you for that, JoSinger!

              • Jo Singer says:

                How exciting for your daughter. I wish her all the best. Social Work school- now THERE is a stressor of incredible magnitute. I had to drop out my first time- couldn’t handle the stress at all- my field placement sucked- the professors were somewhere back in the “dark ages” so just left after my first semester. Years later I went back to another school- one that was really much more liberal- great teachers- and I loved it. What is SUDP? That is a term with which I am not familiar.

                I just also had to say that the reason I revealed more about myself is that I do feel safe here to do so.

              • Caroline says:

                Jo? My daughter’s middle name is Josephine, named after my favorite aunt on her paternal side. πŸ™‚
                Her full name is Madeline Josephine <3
                What is your middle?

                You are so kind, and understanding and empathic, Jo. You must have been the top of your field and profession, of which I'm believing and certain.
                Do you think that you could write an article on the U.S.'s Animal Control gov't organization in each city/county? I'm ready. I'll do your research; whatever you need…

              • Caroline says:

                SUDP” stands for something to do with substance abuse. It’s an acronym that the VA in the united States uses, fwiw.

      • Caroline says:

        ignore this, please. this was written when I was angry because of the article. [Jo knows what I mean. Jo, tell Michael to delete this, please?]

        • Caroline says:

          Michael, I think it is long overdue? that you changed this format for replies? It is all too easy to misconstrue the context of the reply, due to the physical placement within the “mirage” of the site’s html constraints.

          just need some peace.

    • Michael says:

      I agree Jo. I felt the need to raise the question as no one had done it before. It is very tough question. Even on a simplistic level a person with a serious mental health issue but non-violent may have difficulty looking after himself in which case he may have difficulty looking after a companion animal satisfactorily. That is a reasonable observation, I feel.

  9. Dee (Florida) says:

    A very complicated subject.
    Mental illness is broad scoped and has many categories and degrees.
    It spans those completely detached from reality as well as those suffering from depression.
    A registry isn’t feasible ever. It’s disciminatory and, I’m certain, our mental health acts would never entertain such a thought any more than the CDC would have a registry for HIV patients.
    I have, always, felt that any person suffering from a mental health issue and being treated is far more safe than the general public where insanity flourishes.
    Here, any person can walk into a kill shelter and adopt a cat for a $40 fee. No questions asked. For that matter, they can just walk down a street and scoop one up, because they are plentiful.
    It’s horrible what happened to Mowgli. Maybe, it could have been prevented had Laura been having the sort of monitoring from mental health professionals that she should have, considering her long history. As in most cases, the system failed her and Mowgli paid.

    • Jo Singer says:

      Dee, I felt the same way that you did- the system totally failed.

      Today, in the USA at any rate, there is a huge unmet need for mental health treatment- and people can wait months to be evaluated and treated. It just isn’t fair. It seems that there still continues to be a stigma attached to mental illness, and is considered a “second class” condition. It makes me really angry.

      • Caroline says:

        Writing as a retired psychotherapist- it is indeed extremely difficult, if not impossible- to be able to determine how a pet might be treated by someone with mental illness.”

        My god, thank goodness you never had any arrogance as a full fledged psychotherapist.

      • Michael Broad says:

        Mental health is a second class health subject. A lot of need goes unmet. In the UK all the mental hospitals were closed years ago in favour of care in the community whatever that means.

    • Caroline says:

      Well, Dee what are you and Jo going to do? Exactly. If we are making “declawing” the issue? Is that easier for you? <3

      • Caroline says:

        I love you both, just giving you shit. Your egos need some work, according to my Cats’ standards. πŸ˜‰

        • Caroline says:

          And Jo especially seems to vacillate. Please, as a “retired” [how can you deem yourself [fully] retired psychotherapist, when you feel the need in stating so?
          Is your ego, as an psychoanalyst and therapist retired? Michael is a retired solicitor, which is a far cry different from your profession. Not so? So why do you let your ego get in the way of being truly “professional” in your profession of “Psychotherapy,” and calling a spade “a spade?” πŸ˜‰

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          Duly noted, Caroline.
          Egos need work.
          Got that, Jo?

        • Dee (Florida) says:

          Caroline, if I have offended you in some way, I am very sorry.
          I love reading your comments and thoughts.

  10. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    I think it depends on what type of mental illness a person has, hers was obviously serious as she’d been sectioned, in which case she would have been closely supervised if she had a baby or as you said Michael, the baby taken into care, so she shouldn’t have been allowed to have an innocent animal in her care.
    So yes there should be a register of those people who could be dangerous to animals.
    Poor little Mowgli may not have been tortured and cooked alive if there had been.
    I’ve always said that anyone wanting a pet should first have to pass a competence test.
    They don’t have to before having a baby of course so it’s never going to happen.
    I’ve suffered reactive depression but would never have hurt an animal, in fact animals can help people with depression a lot, but they are very vulnerable and they should be protected from those who might abuse them.

  11. Sarah says:

    Michael, as a person who has had a lifelong mental health issue, I object to the idea of a register. Mental illness ranges from depression (short or long term) through a huge range of symptoms and to psychosis. There isn’t a “one size fits all” definition. Many of us cope in silence for decades, without being a danger to anyone else, before finally getting a diagnosis. That’s me out of the closet, though I’d have preferred not to be because of the stigma attached to mental illness. However I feel strongly about the subject. For employment, unless you hold a disability card, you don’t need to disclose mental illness. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against those with mental illness. Having a central register would treat the mentally ill the same way as a sex offender.

    What is needed is an end to the “care in the community” approach where those with known serious mental health issues can’t get the support they need. I have friends who have been trying for years to find out what is wrong with them; none of these are a danger to anyone except themselves (suicide is a big risk for those with a mental health burden). What is, and what isn’t, a mental illness changes: homosexuality (which occurs in in many animal species) used to be considered a mental illness (still is in some countries).

    There were many times, before my condition was diagnosed and managed, when the only reason I had for continuing living was because I had a responsibility to care for my animals.

    The majority of animal cruelty is perpetrated by those who aren’t mentally ill. Why discriminate against majority of us with “issues” so that we must be on a register, just because of the few?

    • Michael Broad says:

      No offence intended of course. I have the greatest of respect for you and don’t consider you as having a mental health issue.

      I am just asking and exploring. There is talk anyway of medical records being available as a database in the UK to advance medical treatment and health generally. It means giving up privacy for the benefit of the whole. Therefore my suggestion is not far off the mark I feel.

  12. Marc says:

    That must have been the most awful awful experience for Mowgli. I can’t believe it. Once again humanity shows yet another animal the true meaning of hell.

    Only this time she has some kind of excuse. She still did it though. The fact remains that she – in her ilness- clearly is emotionally incapable. She should not have been allowed an animal.

    They should take her goldfish too.

    • Michael says:

      Agreed. It may not be her fault in the strictly criminal sense (because of the illness) but she is still a danger to animals.

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