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.
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.