What are the cultural differences between the UK and the USA and do they affect how people care for their cats in these countries?
I’ll remark right away that having worked through this page, learning and thinking as I went along, I have not come to a firm conclusion. I thought that I might. I was wrong. Also, we should not generalise about people. It is easy to do it. We can’t say that “Americans” do so and so because many Americans don’t do so and so.
By convention3, it is considered that compared to Brits some Americans are:
- More patriotic – In the UK, you never see Union Jack flags outside people’s homes unless there is something special going on. This is probably partly because, in the USA, kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily at school (I am told). It also means that some Americans are….
- Less likely to enjoy laughing at themselves – self-deprecating humour – and less likely to accept criticism of their country, perhaps.
- Less likely to have travelled abroad and therefore have less to compare with and some Americans will be less broad-minded perhaps. This may result in a likelihood for some to have entrenched views, a sort of false certainty. Only 22% of the American population have a passport.
- More openly friendly and less reserved. But is the friendliness skin deep?
- More family-orientated perhaps. More focused on their children.
- In general, very pro-gun ownership4. Many Americans defend the right to bear arms with a passion. Many Americans are not interested in guns.
On my travels to America I see differences in culture but they are not that stark to me. Perhaps it is because I have travelled a lot and am more accepting of differences in culture.
How do these cultural differences affect cat caretaking? Perhaps they don’t affect cat caretaking but what are the outstanding differences? These come to mind:
- There appears to be more feral cats in America. Does that mean (a) more relinquished cats or (b) less responsible cat ownership or (c) is it because there are far more full-time indoor cats, which results in cats escaping and disappearing.
- There appears to be a greater acceptance to euthanise cats in shelters. I stress “appears” because we don’t really know for sure. It is discussed a lot but no one can provide firm figures. No one is counting the number of eurthanised cats and Americans don’t know how many feral cats there are. The same applies to the UK as far as I am aware. Euthanasia of shelter cats happens in the UK, I presume. I say, “I presume”, because we never read about it or hear about it. I know Cats Protection, a large organisation, euthanise with great reluctance and under veterinary control.
- 50-60% of cats are indoor-only cats in the USA. The percentage in the UK is 8.4%1. This is a significant difference. Is it due to cultural differences? I can’t see a connection between the cultural difference listed and keeping cats indoors so conclude that the reason is that the outdoors is more dangerous for cats in the USA. This may be because of the far greater number of large wild animals in the USA that will attack a domestic cat (i.e. coyotes).
- I hate to mention it but declawing of cats is by far the biggest cultural differences in cat caretaking between the USA and the UK after the indoor cat issue. Once again there is no obvious connection between the cultural differences listed above and declawing of cats. I have to conclude that this is an aberration. It must be partly due to a lack of sensitivity towards the cat as a sentient being with intelligence and emotions.
In conclusion, I don’t see the conventional cultural differences listed affecting how American people care for their cats. There is no obvious connection.
What about hunting? More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish2. That is about 12% of the population. I can’t find a figure for the UK but it will be very low. Perhaps the liking of hunting and the desire to declaw have the same cause. Perhaps the reason is that America is still a relatively young country and the legacy of hunting for food has carried forward to the modern era. Hunting for food does not sit comfortably with treating animals as sentient, feeling beings.
Consumerism and commercialism appears to play a role too. The biggest difference, as mentioned, is declawing and vets do it. They are a businesses. They could stop doing declawing but it would hurt profit margins.
The differences in cat caretaking between the countries is due to a variety of factors
- http://britishexpats.com – reflecting general opinion?
- This is my view judging by internet research.
- Picture of American flag by Cristian_RH7
- Picture of Union Jack by ReeSaunders
- Picture of cat by Michael