Should we “own” a cat?

Should we “own” a cat?

by Michael
(London, UK)

This page attempts to introduce the subject. I was prompted to write it after reading the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s argument that ownership of cats is good.

Of course they would support ownership of cats because their members sell cats. A contract for the sale of a cat is safer if the seller owns the cat. That seems obvious.

Charlie sticking his tongue out at me.
You won’t own me!

I found the CFA’s arguments rambling and contradictory, to be honest. But at its core there is the simple statement that “…As legal property, they cannot be taken away from us except by Constitutional due process..”

The CFA says that an alternative word “guardian”. “contradicts this critical protective and personal relationship..”

It appears from these statements that the reason why cat breeders want to retain the idea of cat ownership is because it provides a defense to someone taking the cat away from the owner. But how often does this happen? Hardly ever. It only happens in rare convictions for animal cruelty or cat hoarding. Am I wrong?

That is partly why I don’t think this is actually the real reason. The real reason is as mentioned; cat breeders have to treat cats in some respects as a product to be sold like any other commercially produced product. To change the relationship between cat and human in such a fundamental way by introducing the principle of “guardianship” would undermine the cat breeding business. I can understand and respect that. It would have been better if the CFA had simply said that.

There are alternatives to the principles of ownership and guardianship.

Linda P Case in her excellent book: The Cat: Its Behavior, Nutrition and Health, uses the phrase, “caretaker”. This is my preferred language because it reflects the true relationship. This is where the CFA come unstuck. They say that a cat is a family member and it is best to “own” a family member. This can’t be correct.

I would think that all right minded people would agree that “caretaker” or “guardian” is the correct language and describes the true relationship.

But there cannot be a change to the language of cat keeping until the law is changed to remove the cat companion as an object to be owned. This is highly unlikely at present because there might be consequences and complications with respect to contract.

That said a person does not have to own an object to be able to sell it. Agents acting for principles can sell objects on behalf of the principle. And people with a power of attorney can also sell objects owned by others.

I would have thought that it would take little in the way of legal adjustment to allow breeders to sell cats despite not owning cats.

You see, for the vast majority of people the idea of cat caretaking is preferable. We should not hang on to the outmoded and outdated concept of cat ownership for a tiny minority of cat keepers – the cat breeders.

Cat breeders have a right to be protected. But a change in the law under which a companion animal has similar rights to other family members would substantially help the cat and if drafted properly the rights of cat breeders would be protected.

It would remove the idea that people can do as the please with the cat. This has resulted in overbreeding (selective cat breeding) of some cat breeds (e.g. Persian and Siamese) and it promotes abandonment of cats and declawing, I argue. The long term benefits for cats and equally important society (think feral cat problem) far outweigh the fiddly process of adjusting the law.

It conclusion a change in the law would help to create a new and improved mind set more in tune with modern life, respect for other animals and the preservation of the planet generally.

Michael Avatar

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Should we “own” a cat?

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Mar 19, 2011
No we should not ‘own’ a cat
by: Ruth

No one can ‘own’ another living being, whether person or animal.
No one says I ‘own’ my children do they !
So why do they think they ‘own’ their pets. Pets are not possessions, we are merely their caretakers.
I hate it that cat breeders and showers use their cats for their own kudos, it’s not a cat’s life to be bred from constantly or carted around shows, primped up, poked by vets and sit in a cage to be gazed at by strangers.
Their caretakers get the rewards, not the cats themselves.
All animals were born free and lived free as they were meant to, until we humans came along and forced them to conform to our liking.
The least we can do is ensure they have as near a natural life as it’s possible to give them.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Mar 19, 2011
“own” is the wrong word
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

We need a better word than to say we own our cats, but a word that still conveys our right to protect our pets, not have them taken from us, and to not be forced to do things we feel are bad for the cat. Caretaker is good. Language matters, because it drives our thought. How we speak is how we think. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel puts a picture of cats on top of the “stuff” for sale column in the classifieds. Has no one but me questioned the choice of a living being to represent “stuff”?

And the term owner doesn’t protect you from having to do things not in the cat’s best interest. How many land lords require that cats be declawed? (A stupid position, since a declawed cat is more likely to have litter box avoidance issues.) I used to stay at a pet friendly motel in Reedsburg, WI and the owner said he never once ever had a problem with an animal staying at the motel. Plenty of problems with the people, but the people with pets were generally better behaved.

Animals teach us. They bring out the best in us if we let them. No inanimate object can do for us what a pet can do for us. But we reward these wonderful, loyal companions by using the same word for our relationship with them that we use for our shoes or coat. So many cats are tossed away the same way one would cast off old clothing or a book we no longer read. The book you sell won’t pine away for you on the shelf at the discount book store. But the cat you give away will miss you. She can experience grief and stress. We need language that indicates this difference.

Mar 18, 2011
Owning a cat?
by: Dorothy

I feel owned by my cat and my other ‘cat friends’.

I really prefer Michael Broad’s term, “Cat companion”. That is really what they are. It says it all perfectly.


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