Would you like to come back as a cat?

By Ruth

How often do we hear someone say: ‘If I have to be reborn on this earth I hope I come back as a cat’ (domestic cat). Well, to me that’s the daftest wish of all to make, because cats are the most vulnerable, misunderstood and mistreated animals of all.

cats in the kitchen
Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Too many people expect cats to behave like humans, they call them ‘bad cats’ for simply doing what comes naturally to a cat. Then the poor creatures are punished! Shouted at, squirted at with various liquids, scruffed, tapped on the nose, hit, kicked, shut in a cage, shocked by scat mats, relinquished to a Shelter, abandoned, the list of the dreadful things that can happen to a cat because of cruel or ignorant people, is endless.

Take jumping up onto the kitchen worktop, the cat doesn’t know it’s wrong, he likes to be up a height, if he doesn’t have a high perch of his own to sit on, who can blame him for sitting on the worktop? It’s cruel to punish a cat for wanting to sit up high.

Take scratching, this is essential to a cat for his health and contentment, he needs to scratch to exercise his muscles, so it’s natural that if he isn’t provided with his own scratching post he uses the furniture or the carpet. He doesn’t deserve to be yelled at, or declawed!

Take wanting to to be let out early in the morning, well of course he does, cats are crepuscular. Humans have taken most of his wildness from him but his deep instinct tells him dawn is a good time for hunting.

Take wanting doors open, it’s natural too that he wants freedom to move around, to go out and to come in when he wants to. He can’t open the doors himself can he!

Take walking away from perfectly good food, well we can’t blame him for that either, we have a choice of what we eat, he has to rely on us and if it’s something he doesn’t fancy then why should he have to eat it or go hungry?

A cat has to adjust to our lifestyle and for his own safety and welfare we have to have a few rules. Even if it’s a safe area where he lives and he can have some freedom, a good caretaker will keep him in at night and when no one is home. This rule followed from kittenhood becomes routine and he accepts it.

He also accepts when he is put in his cat basket and taken to the vet, he has no choice. But he should be treated gently, not just picked up and shoved in. We need to put ourselves in a cat’s place now and again and imagine how we would feel in the same position. We need to get down on the floor sometimes and look at the world from his viewpoint.

Some people think cats should be grateful for a home, some even think the sacrifice of their claws is a small price to pay to be ‘allowed’ to live with them. But why should cats be grateful, they didn’t ask us to take over their lives, take their reproductive organs from them, take their freedom, rule their lives!

Yes we do these things for their own good and because we can, but it doesn’t make it right and I for one would never wish to come back to this earth as a cat, that’s for sure.

Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Comment from Michael

If I could ensure that I came back as a cat into a nice home with loving cat guardians, I’d chose to come back as a cat. I think a cat’s life under those circumstances is better than many human lives.

P.S. This post has been re-dated and brought forward as I think it is worth it. The other day I told myself I’d rather be my cat! Well that’s why I re-dated it.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

34 thoughts on “Would you like to come back as a cat?”

  1. aww loved what you said syliva made me cry too, how much compassion and empthy and love you have for all cats kindest wishes xx

  2. Written in your always beautiful language, Ruth. If only what you describe weren’t true.

    Do you remember the little girl I told you about, the waif who came to the house two mornings after the end of my boy? I was down at the end of the garden when I noticed her from a hundred-foot distance, ambling towards the gate in the driveway. The pitiful little wisp of life turned around several times as if to leave, but – having nowhere to go – shortly came back and stood there at a loss, gazing into the emptiness across the road and beyond the fields, down to the river, beyond the bay and out to the ocean. She didn’t sit. She just stood there in her profound isolation, confronted by the immensity of Nature and its immense indifference, the back of her head no bigger than an apricot, and her shoulder-blades protruding through her skin like parallel disks.

    I went out to fetch her – she couldn’t have weighed more than two pounds, though she was nearly full-grown – made up a warm bed in the tool shed, put her in there and gave her some canned cat food. God have mercy – only he hasn’t. Her eyes streamed green mucus and her legs, smaller around than my fingers, could barely support her. During the night she hid herself under some loose planks in the floor, although the next morning she’d climbed into her bed.I minced some raw steak, which she ate. But she was so weak and coughed so badly, I feared for Ethel (I’d wrapped my boots in plastic bags), and took the little souls away, gently lifting her into a cage – she tried to resist but was too frail – and had her put to sleep. Horrendous? Yes. But I’d shot my bolt, Ruthie.

    Was she unique? No. They’re all over the place down here. The only cure to what would turn into misanthropy is to visit a vet clinic and see the parents who care about their kids.

    I agree with you and your sister, though. In the animal world, there are more scenes of helpless misery than there are sunbeams. Your article and poster said it all.

    ps To Babz: Card on way, but it’ll be LATE. To top it off, you’ll think I scavenged it from the dump. It got drenched in a cloudburst as I dashed for the car, and one side of the envelope split wide open — we’re talking a gaping barn-door effect. I tried to Scotch-tape it, but doubt it’ll hold. xx

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Thank you Sylvia, my article might have sounded too pessimistic but that’s the way it is, there are numerous cats suffering on this earth and too many people thinking it’s not important.
      Yes I remember you writing about that poor little cat, you have a heart of gold for all you do there for the ones you can help and I know, like the rest of us who love cats, that it breaks your heart that you can’t help them all x

    2. Sylvia Ann, that was the most heartfelt, beautifully poetic eulogy I’d ever read. Thank you so much.

      And after finding this comment to Ruth(Kattaddorra) from above, I would just like to quote it:
      “In the animal world, there are more scenes of helpless misery than there are sunbeams.”
      -Sylvia Ann.

    3. Hi Sylvia, your post brought tears to my eyes, sadly this is the reality of life for so many unwanted, unknown & unloved cats and kittens, life isn’t a bed of roses for cats in any country is it? I’m sure that poor little soul was grateful for the sad duty you performed for her, sometimes oblivion must be better than constant hunger and suffering. Thanks very much for remembering my birthday and going to such trouble to get a card in the post, it might never get here but the thought and deed was so kind that even if I don’t see it I can feel the love behind the gesture. You’re a good, if slightly nutty, woman, the world would be a better place for more Sylvia Ann’s xx

  3. And what about when he wants to climb up your pant leg on a workday before you have changed into jeans. That’s not his fault, is it. Either consider it endearing or make sure you change into jeans after he greets you and you pick him up. 😉 Another option, distract him with a playtoy while you engage with him, any time he tries to climb up you if you don’t like that behavior. It says more about you as his playmate; he wants to engage with you because he missed you (probably hungry or wants to rest on your shoulder or in your arms).

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      I don’t care what I’m wearing, I can’t wait to interact with our boyz the minute I get home, the neighbours probably think I’m crazy shouting ‘Won’t be long’ when I go out and ‘Hellooo I’m back’ when I come in lol

      1. I don’t care either, Ruth. 😉 It’s just a happy, happy reunion! And the most joy, I swear, that we’ve ever had in the world in that moment. My neighbors no doubt think that I’m crazy–the things that I say outloud, outside, while opening that frontdoor–and I don’t even care, maybe a nanosecond, if that. <3

        1. lol! It must be fun to wear cathairs on that fave “Crazy Cat Lady” t-shirt. I wouldn’t know (and guessing that you don’t either), but if a relative or friend bought me one, I certainly would wear it respectfully, cheerfully with an indifferent yet proud grin on my face. 😉

  4. GREAT topic, Ruth! I love your graphic too!

    I have had people tell me (including my vet) that when they come back they want to be a cat but only if they can share their home with ME! LOL

    Yours would be a home that if I came back as a cat I would cherish. You understand feline nature so well. Would that everyone would realize that our homes are theirs just as much as they are ours. Your user name tells it all!

    But I wonder if I would have to go through quaranteen if I came back as a kitty in the USA by accident. . But seriously this blog hits it on the nail!!! Thanks for writing it.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Thanks Jo, I still wouldn’t want to come back as a cat even in the best home ever, life ruled by giants, no free will, oh I’d have my claws out then lol

  5. Good question Ruth, and great poster as always, no I wouldn’t want to come back as a cat, or as anything else and not as a human either. I think human life is what you make it with a dollop of luck thrown in, but cats (and dogs & horses) OMG from where I’m standing there is nothing to recommend it at all. Starting with the shortness of their lives, it’s exceptional for a cat to live beyond the late teens, such a short life compared to the human lifespan, and as we do, I’m sure when they start to get older they feel vulnerable, take for example the situation here where the new people have several unspayed queens and there are toms coming from all arts and parts, some looking worse for wear, to try their luck, we can see that Walter and Jozef feel vulnerable, gone are the days when they would go looking for a fight, now, like Ruth and me, they want a quiet life and find the younger generation intimidating at times (the new people are a bit that way)
    Then there is the matter of where they land up, who takes them in, will they be neutered, fed, protected from the family kids and dog(s), will they get veterinary treatment if they need it, I’ve seen a tom limping badly this morning. Will the kids of the family play rough and hurt them, will the mother whack the cat if she defends herself from the kids or dog with her claws (will the USA mom have those claws surgically removed) will the cat have a home for life or be given away when a baby comes, when a dog comes, when the family move or go on holiday, how will a new home be found, word of mouth, a free to a good home ad in a shop window or on the Internet, who will take the cat next? A new home, a dog fight enthusiast?

    I adore cats, but I worry about them, I don’t think the average cat is cared for in the way he/she deserves. I think the people who come on POC are a breed apart, they are not average cat “owners”, they care for their cats well, they are not owners but guardians. I fear the average cat belongs to an “owner” who is at best indifferent and at worst negligent. Maybe I’m a glass half empty person, I don’t know but as I said at the beginning no, no way, would I want to come back as a cat.

    1. On reflection, I think both you and Ruth have a point. Even people who consider themselves to be good at looking after their cat may not, the truth be told, be that good. No one is measuring people and there are no standards so it is hard to tell. There is a lady who lives not far from me who I’m sure will consider herself to be a good cat owner but did little to try and find one of her cats who went wandering and didn’t come back. Personally, I would have knocked on lots of doors and used my brains to figure out where he was and then found them. It would have done it tirelessly. That is not boasting as it seems the normal thing to do.

    2. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      This is the sister I know and love, the down to earth, tell it as it is Barbara, who always talks a lot of sense.
      More cats are misunderstood or badly treated than are properly treated and as you say Michael even by people who think they are good cat caretakers!
      I saw a fully grown cat lifted by his scruff last week by a person who otherwise (as far as we know) treats the cat kindly, but this is how she moves him from where she doesn’t want him to be.
      There are many many ways of mistreatment, some maybe minor and kids and dogs are often mistreated too, but it’s all about unthinking humans as always who don’t stop to put themselves in the place of the pet/child they have the power over.

      1. Exactly. Some people only kow how to suffocate with their love. They might love their cat ad think they do a good job – but until they actually empathize the cats point of view they will never understand or do a good enough job for the cat.

        Usually when one says they do a good job its a good job to them – not to the cat. So it s a meaningless comment.

      2. That is something that I have not seen discussed here too often: cats being picked up by the “scruff” of the neck. My humble opinion, just because mommacat need to use that method, doesn’t mean that you need to. My goodness, you have two human hands two gently pick up a cat, or kitten for that matter. Another excellent article by Ruth Kattaddorra.

        1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

          You are right,an adult cat should only be picked up by the scruff in an emergency.
          Also some people think because a mother cat does it they can do it too to a kitten, but they shouldn’t, like you say we have two hands to use.
          I hope you don’t mind Caroline I’ve quoted you from another page in my latest article which is coming on soon, because you talk a lot of sense x

  6. I’ve always wanted to fly so I’d come back as a Canadian goose. Fly around, swim, see the country from the air. But that’s just me 🙂

      1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

        I dream of flying too, I suppose it’s subconsciously trying to escape from the reality of this world

  7. I would love to come back as a cat for a short while just for the learning experience.
    I would want to learn to “speak cat” and get solid answers to questions the even scholars have had to guess at.

    1. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

      Yes a short while would maybe be good, but not a lifetime if your fate was to have an unhappy life

  8. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    I’m not knocking the excellent cat caretakers who come to PoC but let me tell you they are few and far between and cats don’t often get to choose who adopts them, so I wouldn’t take the risk of coming back as a cat to an ignorant or cruel person’s home.
    Vulnerable to cat haters, kids, dogs, no thank you!
    Mind you I wouldn’t want to be a dog or a horse either as they have a rough deal too

    1. The trouble is that people still look upon the domestic cat and other animals as highly inferior to them. This prevents them respecting the cat which in turn prevents them treating cats and other animals properly.

      You know me well and I always think of cats as complete equals to us, which many people think is ridiculous but of course I strongly disagree with them.

      1. Most of us do, don’t we. I mean, those who have suffered in life enough to know that we are nothing as a species, if we don’t respect every living entity, whether animal, insect, crustacean, fowl as our own ilk/kin. Does that sound extreme? No. (just call me a cab, and take me to the sea, the animal shelter or down-the-block to the neighbor’s yard…you WILL witness cruelty if you are humane and care about your neighbors in Afghanistan, Pakistan, name ANY country. The truth is, most of our acquaintances and coworkers are too busy with their lives and their egos to care fully.

  9. I am one of those people who say that I like to come back as a cat! ;). I suppose what I mean is that I would like to come back as a cat as long as it was in Ruth’s and Barbara’s house! 😉 Or another house with the same level of excellent cat caretaking. Then I think it would be a very good 18 years of life.

    Perhaps, Ruth, you have painted a slightly pessimistic or dark picture about cat ownership but perhaps you haven’t. I’m not sure. The general perception by most people is that domestic cats live at least reasonably contentedly in most homes. But that may not be the case. Also, if you look widely to countries other than in developed countries, many cats live pretty tough lives as community and stray cats because domestic cat ownership is less commonplace in many countries.

    The domestic cat is vulnerable and there is far too much abuse of animals in general and the domestic at is an example of being a victim of animal abuse but….there are very many very fine cat caretakers and I think we need to recognise that.

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