We shouldn’t judge people who dump cats at shelters

Here is a gallery of three photographs showing how an individual cat is dumped at a shelter outside the door, anonymously. The shelter is the Mayhew Animal Home in London, UK. These are thumbnail photographs. If you click on any one of the photographs you will be taken to a larger version and a description (more discussion).

I think it is quite instructive to see these photographs. Also instructive are the comments on Facebook that accompany the photographs. The following two comments more or less summarise the whole. On the one hand are people who criticise cat owners who dump their cats outside shelters anonymously and on the other hand there are people who, while not defending the person, make the point that you cannot judge a person who dumps their cat like this because we do not know the circumstances under which it happened.

“She’s better off with you guys, than with the shits who dumped her (pardon my French)”

“Not everybody lives in great circumstances, or is sensible, or completely able in mind and body; the cat was secure, had food, was placed where there was help. They might not have done the very best but at least they tried. These comments might put off someone from even doing that.”

What sort of comment would you make? I completely understand that we should be careful about being judgemental about people. Sometimes people fall upon hard times and although, at one time, they were good cat caretakers they find themselves unable, due to financial constraints, to do a good job and on occasions, such as this, they decide that it would be better that their cat is re-homed. They seek the assistance of an animal shelter to do it.

Personally, I would prefer if the person attended the shelter in person face-to-face and not anonymously as this would allow the person to provide some input to the shelter staff regarding the health of the cat and for example food preferences and any other information that may help them to look after the cat and re-home him/her.

Also, although there are many people, decent cat caretakers, who are forced to abandon their cats, there are also many people who are not good and who don’t care, They abandon their cats anonymously in this way sometimes in large numbers. What I mean is they do it anonymously as if they feel guilty or ashamed of what they are doing.

That probably tells us something about the person and to be frank I believe that on many occasions people do use financial hardship as an excuse to dump their cats, when in truth if you were able to analyse their budgetary constraints you will probably discover that they are in fact able to care for their cat properly but have not prioritised caring for their cat with the money available. It is often about prioritisation and where your loyalties lie.

The word “commitment” comes to mind. Is a person is committed to doing their utmost to look after their cat throughout the life of the cat notwithstanding unforeseen difficult times?

9 thoughts on “We shouldn’t judge people who dump cats at shelters”

  1. I Think I’m probably judgmental too. I just cant understand why people would Dump and injure animals especially intentionally.

  2. Maybe some people think I’m judgemental, I probably am, but I look at it from a cat’s point of view and if our roles were reversed, a cat would never ever abandon a human once they were in their care.
    We have a moral as well as a loving duty that once we have taken a cat (or dog) into our lives we should care for them as long as we are able, the only good enough reasons not to in my opinion are death, serious illness or homelessness.
    There are too many people who see animals as disposable possessions instead of the living feeling creatures they are.

  3. I often negatively judge those who dump cats. However,in retrospect,I have to wonder the circumstances and wonder what I would do in such circumstances.My loyalty to my cats goes above and beyond,I will go without food to keep the cats fed,their needs are attended to before my morning routine to get to work and once home,before I get a drink or eat,I attend to them.But what if I was suddenly homeless or fleeing an abusive spouse? Both of which I have experienced,but managed to keep the cats.And my homelessness was only until the tenants were out of my home and I had a place to stay w/cats and children until then. Many have no where to go or return to,I was fortunate…..there but for the grace of God go I. So,I have to question what caused the person to dump the cats.In many circumstances it is usually unnecessary to remove the cats,but I am sure some, due to circumstances,thought it was the only solution.Those who leave the cats at a shelter should be given some benefit of the doubt. Those who dump on roadsides and the like get no pity from me.Depending upon each case,sometimes the people need to be shown how the cat could remain with them.I blame friends and family members,too.They should go the extra mile if the person cannot.I have kept cats for people until they found a home or bought the food and litter until a job was found.

    • I think it is easy to get into the trend of criticising people who give the appearance of acting irresponsibly towards their cat because some people set high standards relative to others. Abandoning a cat in a cardboard box at the shelter’s doors is not something you or I would do. It is complete anathema to me and therefore I can get into a situation where it is possible to be judgemental. I know I can on occasion be judgemental when it might not be appropriate but certain situations demand a judgemental approach. One such behaviour is declawing. There is no possible excuse or justification for that because in an absolute sense it is wrong as far as I’m concerned.

  4. As always, my opinion is that there is never a reason to relinquish or abandon a cat unless through death.
    Like everybody else, I’ve heard a lot of excuses that don’t hold water with me. But, I’m open to the possibility that there may be a valid one somewhere out there that I haven’t heard.
    I can only think of one situation when a person, determined to give up their pet, would leave them outside a shelter. And, it’s the same as Babx wrote. The shelters are over capacity and refusing admissions. Even at that, it’s fruitless to do that here because that shelter (assuming it is a no kill) will merely call the kill shelter to come for them. County shelters are not allowed to refuse admissions.

    • I have the same opinion as you, Dee, but it seems that quite a few other people think that sometimes it is justified to abandon a cat at a shelter in a cardboard box and walk away without talking to the people who work at the shelter. Personally I find that callous and coldhearted but that said there may be some rare situations under which a person does such a thing and part of the reason is the mentality of the person. Some people through no fault of their own are quite weak willed and I’m not saying that in a critical way at all; I am just stating it as a simple fact and I think we have to be understanding of people who behave in a weak but human way.

  5. It’s a terrible way to relinquish a cat, the cat, a prisoner in a cardboard box, is so vulnerable, what if a gang of yobs had come along and found the poor creature helpless there, what if it has poured down with rain soaked the box and the cat had wriggled out and been run over or strayed away. It seems so cowardly and cruel to fasten a cat in a box and just dump it never knowing what happened afterwards, I suppose the dumper just goes away and makes up a happy ever after story, or never gives the cat another thought. On the other hand one possible reason for dumping the cat rather than seeing someone face to face is that quite often help is refused, shelters say they can’t take any more animals in and have to turn people away, this maybe is what the person who dumped this cat was trying to avoid but it’s no excuse for abandonment.

  6. Sorry but I’ve judged people who relinquish their cats to Shelters and the people who dump their cats outside Shelters and I’ve found them guilty as charged and a fitting punishment would be for their human family to dump them when it became inconvenient to have them around any more.
    The Shelter studies I helped Jean Hofve with will be in my mind forever, the flimsy excuses people gave, the number who moved and couldn’t take the cat, the allergies, the new dog, the new baby etc etc and so forth……
    Cats are family and the only good enough excuse to relinquish a cat is the caretaker’s serious illness or death or homelessness.

    • We both think in the same way about people who abandon their cats in this manner. It seems that quite a few people disagree with us. Perhaps the problem is that we set relatively high standards of cat caretaking compared to many other people. That is not a boast in any shape or form; it is just trying to find a reason why we find abandoning a cat in this way objectionable. It is something that we would never consider. It would never enter our head which is why it is shocking to us but people who set lower standards and you don’t know about good standards of cat caretaking see this behaviour as acceptable. Ultimately is about commitment and standards and millions of people have quite modest cat caretaking standards if we are honest.


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