The Little Red Book on “Standards of Excellence in Cat Ownership”

Cat caretaking standards book

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There should be a worldwide, universally obtainable pamphlet called “The Book of Cat Caretaking Standards” or “Standards of Excellence in Cat Ownership”. There are many books and websites on the various aspects of cat caretaking/guardianship or ownership but there isn’t a 25 page pamphlet or “little red book”, written in plain language, on excellence in cat ownership and there should be.

This morning when the Tesco grocery delivery arrived and I was putting it away I said to myself “it can be hard looking after a cat”. I was putting away cat food and Gabriel, my cat, was messing around. All the usual things were taking place but why did I say it can be hard looking after a cat? That seems to be a statement of failure. It seems to imply that I was struggling looking after my cat but that is not what I meant.

What I meant was “it can be hard looking after a cat when you want to look after a cat in an excellent manner.” Without realizing it, I was referring to the standards of care and if the standard a person sets himself is high then it can be hard looking after a cat because in order to meet high standards of domestic cat care the owner has to think and act and be around and be concerned and spend money. The owner has to unflinchingly spend money on veterinary care when it is required. The owner has to be intensely concerned about the welfare of his cat. The owner has to play with his cat and create an environment which is suitable for a domestic cat especially when the domestic cat is living inside all the time.

There are, in reality, a gazillion considerations if a person wishes to care for his cat to a very high standard so my statement was really about standards of domestic cat care. It is extremely easy to look after a cat badly because all you have to do is put food down and it can be bad food, put a cat flap in the back door and pretty well do nothing else. In fact, you hardly need to put down any food because a neglected cat will probably hunt for himself or if the food is unsuitable he will find a suitable source somewhere else, probably in another person’s home.

So, if a person says to himself “it can be hard to look after a cat” it means that person is setting a high standard for himself which sometimes he feels he is struggling to meet for various reasons. In my case one of the reasons is that I would like to travel a bit more and because I have adopted Gabriel is now more difficult to travel but that is a trade-off for the great pleasure he gives me in looking after him. Being retired I am able to spend a lot of time with him and show him my love but if I had to work I would not be able to meet my high standards. That would worry me. That would stress me and it has happened in the past.

I am fairly positive that very few people say to themselves, “it can be hard looking after a cat”. People who don’t remind themselves of this are either doing an excellent job and meeting high standards with ease in which case they are fantastic cat caretakers or they are setting very low standards but are unaware of it.

I wonder if there should be some sort of book on standards of domestic cat care. We should be able to grade ourselves on the quality of domestic cat care that we provide as set against some sort of standard. There is no standard except in the UK through the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which is too general to be very useful for cat ownership. No one in authority has given a thought to what constitutes excellence in cat ownership. There should be a standard. There should be standards somewhat like the rules that govern driving on the road in most countries. Those standards are set in order to protect ourselves because driving on the road can be dangerous.

But then again, poor cat welfare is obviously extremely dangerous for the cat and we don’t know how many hundreds of thousands or millions of cats die through neglect. The Book of Cat Caretaking Standards would have to cover the quality of food with which the cat is provided, the quality of stimulation through play or access to safe areas outside with which the cat is provided, the quality of medical care administered to the cat, the amount of time that the cat owner is able to be with his cat, the knowledge of the cat owner in respect of cat behaviour, basic medical and nutritional requirements and whether the cat is micro-chipped and neutered. These seem to be the most important aspects of a book on cat caretaking standards.

Might it not be a good idea to have a slim book, a pamphlet if you like, which is available at all veterinary clinics and hospitals and rescue centres which sets out the rules of the road in respect of excellence in cat ownership? It should be exactly the same nationwide.

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10 thoughts on “The Little Red Book on “Standards of Excellence in Cat Ownership””

  1. I think experienced cat caretakers could write a better book than the so called experts, because we can only learn how to care for cats by time and personal experience and yet we still need to admit that we don’t know it all…we never will.
    If children were educated in school about animal care and how caring for a cat is different to caring for a dog, then more cats would have better lives.
    Most adults don’t want an instruction book and as Michelle said not many would read it when they can find all sorts of information (right or wrong) on line.

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  2. What comes to mind are the thousands of books and pamphlets available for child rearing and the rare human who actually makes use of them.

    Because we are an arrogant and know-it-all society, the only pamphlet that a caretaker may actually pick up would have to be written by, perhaps, Jackson Galaxy.

    Quote: “it can be hard looking after a cat when you want to look after a cat in an excellent manner.”
    Ofcourse, it’s hard. I love the saying, “If you’re not working hard, you’re hardly working”.
    There are no shortcuts, no breaks, no easy ways, no “forgetting”. That’s not what we committed to.

    Reply
    • Well said Dee, I agree. I’d like a pamphlet or slim book that became so well respected that it was universally accepted and used as a master guide. There are some books like that. Ambitious? Yes, very and probably impossible to achieve but I believe it would raise the standards and there needs to be some sort of guidance to cat owners. The whole set up is very laissez-faire meaning it is slack. The book could and should also form the basis of criminal prosecutions of animal abuse or neglect.

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  3. Michael I think if the pamphlet were too detailed or lengthy that a lot of people simply wouldn’t read it.

    Those who do want more in depth information or advice, already go on-line or buy a book.

    Reply
    • Thanks for that Michelle. It is basically the Animal Welfare Act 2006. I’d like something a little more tailored to cats with a bit more detail.

      I think a bunch of cat people like ourselves could do better 😉 .

      Reply
  4. excellent post!! I try to give my “kids” all the best. Unfortunately, I do still have to work, so I can’t spend all my time with them. It breaks my heart while I am getting ready to go and they are sitting on my bed with the big, sad eyes, but, on the other hand, there is nothing better than coming home to true, unconditional love — regardless of what kind of night (I work all nights) I have had at work. I do believe I am doing my best for them — my vet thinks I am doing a superb job, so I must be doing something right. I treat them as little people who don’t communicate very well — they are my little toddlers — and I love them with all my heart!! ♥♥♥

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