Some Ethical Dilemmas for Cat Owners

Potentially, there are some ethical dilemmas for the cat caretaker/guardian. I am referring to cat owners who think but of course whether these are dilemmas or certainties depends on the thinker.

Let’s start with the “problem” of neighbours and people you know. Sometimes their standard of cat caretaking is not that great. It may be downright poor but you get along with them and as a neighbour you have to get along with them. If at all possible, you must never fall out and fight with your neighbour as it will make your life noticeably worse.

Torties belonging to neighbour
Tortie “owned” by my neighbour. She is unneutered and she breeds.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Here is an example. My neighbour looks after several cats and one of them, a tortie, is not spayed and an indoor/outdoor cat (see above). In the neighbourhood there is a male, unneutered, stray cat. He wants to procreate and so does she. This morning I saw her in the receptive position (lordosis) and in heat and him about to mount her. He had grabbed the scruff of her neck in his jaws. I deliberately upset the mating process because it is not right for my neighbour to deliberately let her cat have kittens. That’s obvious but not obvious to her because she sells the kittens for pocket money. For me this is disgraceful behavior but I keep quiet because when living in an apartment you must try your hardest to get along with close neighbours. If I tell her she is behaving in an irresponsible manner in letting her cat breed informally – even if I tell he in a very polite way – she’ll be annoyed at me because nowadays no one accepts advice from anyone and this is a delicate subject.

A variation on the neighbour theme is letting your cat roam freely. This may upset a neighbour. How do you successful balance the desires of your cat to enjoy the outside while keeping neighbours satisfied? Of course not all neighbours will be upset by your cat being in their garden but some will and those people are sometimes the type who can hurt your cat which brings me neatly to the next ethical dilemma: you want to let your cat enjoy the outside but you don’t want to jeopardise his safety. That is a tricky balancing act. Looking at the other side of the coin on this issue; you keep you cat inside all the time even though there are no obvious dangers outside. Do you struggle with that as an ethical dilemma or are you totally convinced that you are correct?

Then there is the case of the visiting cat. What if a neighbour’s cat visits your home and at the time you don’t have a cat companion. You like the visiting cat and you feed her. Now, that is technically the wrong thing to do because the cat might be a glutton and you might be overfeeding the cat. Perhaps the cat has diabetes and is overweight. You should prevent that cat coming into your home to eat. But you don’t for various reasons (you like her visits). This is another ethical battle.

How far do you go to ensure that your cat gets a perfect diet? Do you buy the best cat food or do you try and train him to eat raw cat food? You’re busy and away from home a lot so you put down dry cat food knowing that it is not that good. It is a compromise and the cat suffers in this compromise not you. How far do you go to accommodate the needs of your cat? If you always make choices which suit you but which are detrimental to your cat, how do you feel about that? For example, you’d love to live in a penthouse apartment but know that an equivalently priced detached house with a fully enclosed garden is better for your cat. You choose the penthouse. That is an ethical dilemma.

What if you are short of cash but fancy a nice new outfit. You buy new clothes on credit and yet your cat receives dry cat food and poor quality wet food. Do you consider forgoing the new clothes and upping the food standard for your cat and if so you have another ethical dilemma. A truly concerned cat lover won’t have this sort of problem, it has to be said; they’ll put their cat first but even they can’t do it all the time.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

16 thoughts on “Some Ethical Dilemmas for Cat Owners”

  1. Sadie and friends helps others

    on the issue with the tortie. I think I would have her spayed, let her recuperate and release her. The owner probably wouldn’t even know. To me that’s not a dilemma at all. Being the ultimate cat person I would buy the better cat food over the new outfit. It’s all about priorities I guess.

    1. I like your idea. It is bold and effective. I don’t feel I can do it though. It’ll create too many problems at least potentially.

    2. Any free roaming cat that looks “intact” or in heat will come with me to be neutered. I don’t care if they belong to someone or not. Most idiotic “owners” won’t even know. How sad is that?

  2. If I’m short on cash I still go out and buy my cat the best cat food I can. If she needs to go to the vet, same thing. I spent $200 in May 2015 for her senior wellness exam. Samirah wasn’t sick, but she hadn’t had blood work in over a year. Her blood work was fine. Even the vet was surprised. The thought of cutting corners with her just doesn’t occur to me.

    I don’t know what I would do about the neighbor with the tortie, Michael. Well, wait, yeah I do. I once catnapped an abused kitten who was left out in the cold of winter and whose collar was so tight it would have embedded itself in his neck. I kept the kitten under wraps, took him to the vet and when I moved out in another month he came with me and my other 2 cats. I didn’t move because of the kitten. I was moving anyway. Your situation is different and much trickier.

  3. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    As for the “indoor-outdoor” dilemma, I have considered the pros and cons. Although, I’ve had indoor-outdoor cats in the past with no problem, I’m choosing not to do it now, although my cat really would prefer to be outside since she lived that life for a year before I adopted her.

    We have reached a compromise by taking her out twice a day, with halter and leash. I sit outside, and allow her to roam. The leash is RED, so I can spot it easily out of the corner of my eye, while I read. I live in a mobile home park, so there is no confining fence, as in the past. She usually stays close by, except to chase a bird or butterfly. Sometimes, she just sits in a chair next to me. We’re out for about a half hour, then I bring her inside. I have to pick her up, since she never wants to go back inside.

    Even though she has an outdoor, enclosed porch, she still wants to have the experience of being “out”, beyond these confines. My conscience and my heart prevent me from letting her be completely free because of the potential dangers with other cats who aren’t confined, neighbors who don’t like cats, and vehicles. Outdoor cats do get spooked, and run away, never to be found. I couldn’t bear the responsibility of any injury or loss that I could have controlled.

    As I’ve said before, domestic animals are like children, and caring for them involves protecting them as much as possible. Even if kept inside, there are dangers, so it means being especially aware, which many guardians are not.

    Last Christmas, my roommate had finished decorating the tree, complete with tinsel. She had no awareness that cats may eat tinsel, with an undesirable and dangerous result. I mentioned it, and together we removed most of it. Any time changes take place in the home, it can create unforeseen “accidents” which may entail a trip to the vet to save a cat or a child’s life.

  4. Michael,I suspect that is Jorgeanna Stanley,ever since my friend Angela Smith who lives in the UK offered to fly me across the pond to visit her I had shared on my Tiger page asking for advice which travel agencies work best with travel fare etc,then she slammed me for doing a campaign to raise funds to fly out to California to help get my daughters cats surrendered since she has turned into a meth head and sadly that was a wasted trip,then another campaign to help my Mystery cross the Rainbow Bridge,this woman is mentally off the rails,wot she doesnt know is that we know she has been arrested a few times and the latest was August 15th and all for the same thing,assault and battery,and as ye cam see making up lies about Amy,I had to ban her from Tigers page and block her from my own personal page,seems she is now trolling cat pages.

    1. Oh her accusing ye being part of the Wildcats becoming extinct really shows her ignorance,scottish citizens know it is against the law to kill them since they are now are endangered,they get killed by cars,deforestation along with feline HIV and it is now hybridisation which represents the biggest threat to wildcats, due to cross-breeding with domestic and feral cats.
      She should have done her home work before posting her stupidity for all to see.

  5. I am currently feeding my neighbors 5 cats that she adopted from our SPCA as kittens and she wont let them back in the house until winter,I get angry at her and when I ask for vet help for one of her cats she gets irritated and says she cant afford the vet Bill and I counter reply with (then why the hell did ye adopt them)she says she doesnt know but boy oh boy she has no problem spending 100’s of dollars on her dam dog or hundreds of fish,she has 3 ponds in her house,the cats every morning 7AM and every evening 5PM are right on my front porch waiting to be fed,she wont even help me feed her own cats and dont tell me to find them new homes,I and her are all they have ever known,it just scares the bejeezus out of me when they cross our busy street which is the thoroughfare for rush hour,if one of her cats gets killed it will be thrown on her lap when instead I would rather punch her in her face.

    1. Yet you saw nothing wrong with your beloved and applauded Amy Hemsell who let the cat allegedly named Tiger roam free (and only fed that cat 2 times a week, and 2 more feral cats with the exact same markings roaming the neighborhood, as reported by neighbors) to be shot by an arrow — as-is legal under all anti-depredation laws. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Hint: that’s why Kristen Lindsey violated no crime and cannot be convicted of any crimes. But your cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying, and fraudulent fund-raising; now that’s a whole other criminal matter facing the lawyers and courts. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) How much money has your fraudulent fund-raising efforts put in her back-pocket and yours from all your lies, deceptions, and now-proved two-faced values?

    2. Guess who really killed “Tiger” — Amy Hemsell. It’s called animal-neglect and animal-endangerment, laws on the books in every state. I suggest you do to her what you did to Kristen Lindsey to redeem your sorry two-faced self.

    3. This just in …

      msn . com / en-gb / news/uknews/scottish-wildcat-at-risk-from-deadly-virus/ar-AAey0jW

      Now you people are killing-off the few remaining NATIVE wildcats in the UK, just as you are doing to the rare and endangered Florida Panther and all other big-cats in all wildlife preserves around the world with the diseases that your free-roaming cats are spreading to ALL wildlife.

      Aren’t you all just so proud of yourselves. When the last of the Scottish Wildcats are dead and gone, I will blame YOU, Micheal. YOU made them extinct just with your own words and total lack of any redeeming values whatsoever. The term “waste of human flesh” comes to mind.

    4. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

      Irish, you have chosen to take responsibility for these cats, and now they depend on you. The owner is not going to change, no matter how angry you get. And it must be very stressful for you to have the limited role of sustaining them, and yet have no way to protect them from traffic. I know that you are a responsible cat lover, doing what you can. I would be doing the same.

  6. Take the tortie to be spayed. Return tortie after a week. Momentary ethical dilemma produced by this action significantly outweighed by long term benefits.

    1. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

      Susan, I agree. If we see something that will result in hundreds or thousands of unwanted cats, and do nothing, even if one act would remedy it, we are actually contributing to the problem.

      My cat, Mitzy, was born on the street, to a stray. It was during a time when I was in extreme physical pain, and could barely walk. I fed them. And before I moved, I was able to take the mom to the shelter, where she was adopted 2 weeks later. When I returned to the neighborhood, a year later, a neighbor told me that the “kitten” had already given birth to two litters.

      I made the decision to take her to the shelter, where she was kept in the holding cage for a month before they decided she was “unadoptable”, and were going to euthanize her.
      I begged my landlord to let me bring her home. She was confined to my room, with the exception of occasional outings on a leash. She is still afraid of most people.

      I think back to my initial decision to take her to the shelter, and how that prevented hundreds or thousands of unwanted cats to be born. One act of a responsible cat lover can have such a profound affect in limiting the effects of an irresponsible person who claims to love cats.

  7. This is a heavily loaded article and I could give examples of all these dilemmas and how I’ve dealt with them. I will follow up.

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