HomeHuman to cat relationshipWhy are cats referred to as “it”? Should their status remain as “property”?


Why are cats referred to as “it”? Should their status remain as “property”? — 14 Comments

  1. Our cats are family members here. They are all girls and very happy to be called by name or , ” Hey girls, time for breakfast. They know that means time to eat. I once had a vet that used “IT.” Notice I said once had. My cats are family and are treated with great love and respect.

  2. Pets of any kind or animals in general are not property. Those of us that love animals take a pet as a “family” member. It is a living being and not a “thing”. Having a pet does not give any person the right to think of having it as “ownership” and to feel they have the right to dispose of the pet when it becomes old or is no longer useful.

    Anyone who does that has no rights and should never have had a pet in the first place or be allowed another.

    Also, laws need to stop considering them “property”. Refer to them as he or she and give them the rights and care they deserve.

    • Well said Rosie. We all agree with you here on this website. Unfortunately the law makers don’t seem to want to make changes to update the legal status of companion animals.

  3. My ancestors always recognized the fact that all living beings are intrinsically equal and have great value in and of themselves. My ancestors who were enslaved would undoubtedly abhor the use of the word “owner” to describe our relationship to any other living beings, as do I. As to “it” and “property,” my loathing for these terms as regards living beings cannot be measured. It’s 2016, and although the world is probably in a bigger mess than it’s ever been, it IS time to progress beyond this archaic, unjust, and hurtful use of words. That’s why we HAVE words in the first place.

  4. I always refer to my cat as a she and she is a member of our family, she is a cat and I did buy her so I do own her. This gives her some degree of protection because no-one can legally take her away from me. I have never heard the expression “fur-kid” before and I am sure I will never use it. It’s my responsibility as her owner to try to make her life as happy as possible and to make decisions regarding her welfare that as a person she would probably object to (spaying for example). But when it comes down to it though I am her owner she makes the decision to stay with me. And fortunately she is completely unaware of the fact that it was I who had her spayed!

    • Well, it seems to me that if your KITTY has made the decision to stay with you- I guess SHE owns YOU! LOL.
      I have no doubt in my mind that our cats own us! So I guess they can start calling us “it” LOL. Too funny.

      On the serious side however, I don’t feel as if I own our cats. We have a mutual relationship, Alan. We adopted two of our three cats and we recently bought our third kitty. I much prefer the word “guardian” to “owner” since the word “owner” definitely puts the cat into the possession category. With guardian- it really speaks to the relationship. We protect them, we do whatever we need to do to keep them happy and healthy- so I really love “guardian” or even “pawrent”.

    • I used to think of myself as a cat “owner”, but in the last year, I’ve changed my definition to “guardian”. I think that by using that term, I and others are reminded that we are much more than “owners”. Our cats can then be seen as beings, that we are responsible for.

      Of course, many people may call a cat “it” when they don’t know the gender. But I don’t hear guardians calling their cats “it” because they use the name or the proper pronoun.

      I think it’s more important to focus on changing attitudes towards the truly harmful practices, rather than on the mis-use of the word “it” to describe a cat.

      • Sandra Murphey I agree with you that there are more important issues to deal with than calling a cat “it” When I am not sure of a cat’s gender when I write about them I generally refer to the kitty as “he or she”. I think that the “it” word is symptomatic of the fact that cats are not taken seriously enough nor is the species thoroughly understood by so many people. It just reflects many people’s opinion about cats in general. Just my humble opinion.

  5. People who referr to cats as “it” absolutely drive me crazy ! I read comments all the time on “Cats of Google+” where everybody referrers to the cats as “it”..
    Cats have heartbeats too and should not be called an “it”..Michael, either you read my comment about people calling cats “it”, or you were reading my mind.
    My car is an “it” and my TV is an “it”..The way people referr to cats as “things” has long been a “pet peeve” of mine! Thank you for writing and posting this article..

    • What drives me up the wall… speaking about objects referred to with gender.. how many folks refer to their cars as “he or she”, and boats are always “she”. Well if boats and cars can have genders then living animals should have that right!! Our cats are not “its” and my car is not a “she”. LOL

  6. Excellent article Jo. As you say I have always made a point of referring to cats as he and she. “It” has always sounded wrong to me. In some ways you can tell if a person loves cats or not by whether they refer to their cat as it or he and she.

    I like the reference to veterinarians. They are making another poor decision (the other is to declaw cats). They need to improve their image and referring to cats as he and she at all times – it would help.

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