What were the most notable cat events or stories of 2014? How has the domestic cat world evolved over the past year? It is that time of year to take stock and see whether we can see trends. Working on this site provides me with the opportunity to see trends; more so that for most people.
For me the most noticeable trend has been the transition of the internet celebrity cat through videos and photographs to the real thing; the celebrity cat in flesh and blood who challenges human celebrities in terms of earning power. I am, of course talking about Grumpy Cat and what a boring subject she is for me.
It is true, though. Grumpy Cat has earned big for her owner. I suppose it is unsurprising that we have real-life cat celebrities. They are an amalgamation of the cult of celebrity, of which we see too much, and the manic interest in the funny cat video – the cat as entertainer without the responsibility of caretaking. Maru, the box-obsessed cat did well too but remains an internet cat. Taylor Swift employed cats – hers – to self-promote her celebrity in a nice twist on the celeb-cult.
Fortunately, the funny cat video is on the wane. My guess is that Grumpy Cat will have a shortish shelf life like many human celebrities. The media will use her up and tire of her within a year or two. They will need to find something new by then. Perhaps 2016 will be the year of the celebrity dog?
At the other end of the cat world spectrum, cat rescue in the USA has moved on very little. What I mean is that there is still too much euthanasia of healthy adoptable cats. It is hard to move the system out of the rut it is in. Killing cats at shelters should be hard to do. There should be an emotional resistance to it. Often there is not because the life of a cat is still undervalued.
There were some high profile cat hoarding case, the most outstanding of which was Julianne Westberry (what is the latest news?). She was all over the media and on this site. She boosted viewing figures magnificently! Thanks but no thanks because these terrible hoarding cases need to be tackled and stopped. They are a symptom of the oversupply of unwanted in my view. What is your view?
The internet has grown hugely since PoC started in 2007. It is probably about 20 times larger and there are 1000X more cat and pet websites today than there were in 2007. There are far too many. In 2014 the internet cat world continued to expand apace.
Veterinarians have come onto the internet late in the day and branched out into areas not strictly to do with medicine e.g. cat breed information. This creates more competition for cat sites.
Perhaps there was a reluctance by vets to provide information on the internet. There are already too many cat owners who steer clear of the vet to the detriment of their cat’s health. Vets sharing their knowledge on the internet could further dissuade cat owners from taking their cat to the vet when required.
The proliferation of cat and pet websites has helped to educate the pet owner but has it resulted in better cat and dog welfare? I hope so and in terms of cat behavior I would hope that many more cat caretakers relate to their cat companions more appropriately. I would, however, like to see some of this interest on social media and in forums translated to improvements in welfare and reductions in euthanasia rates.
Internet social media as a tool for animal rescue has come on leaps and bounds. There is a massive network on Facebook, and to a lesser extent Twitter, between cat rescue organizations and individuals, volunteers etc.. This is one of the nicest developments, during 2014, in the world of cats. But there are dangers on social media. Many people present a face that is untrue. They misrepresent. There is a lot of fakery on Facebook! Hoarders can use FB networking to further their own ends.
As for the wild cat species, nothing has change: the downward path of population numbers continues. This is because there is a renewed interest in world economic growth after the crash of 2008. Where there is economic growth there is the despoliation of nature bringing with it habitat loss leaving the secretive small wild cats and their prey nowhere to live. On the world stage, the devolution not evolution of the wild cat continues.
A last point dear to my heart: declawing persists in North America. A ban is overdue. However, The Paw Project has made its mark and I believe that it will break through and change people’s perception of declawing in the future.