Monday 4 August 2008


Turkish Van cat
A fantastic Turkish Angora cat photo strictly copyright Helmi Flick. Do we see this cat as better than a feral cat? And if so are we inclined to treat this cat better? If so is that a form of Speciesism?

I posted an article on facts about animal abuse in which I set out some of my thoughts as to why animal abuse takes place. I am not a philosopher. Speciesism is a factor in cat and animal abuse.

Speciesism is in the background of animal abuse. It is not directly responsible for it but it underpins animal abuse and allows it to take place. There are many examples, including the treatment of the feral cats of Australia and the wild Cougar. Native Americans have a better approach to living with our fellow creatures and nature generally than the European settlers. I touch on this in the post on the wild Cougar.

Speciesism is a thought process that assigns different values to different species. A species is a unit of biological classification. Humans are part of the species Homo sapiens. They are known for their highly developed brain and for walking on two legs (bipedal primate). They can think in the abstract, have emotions and have developed a range of languages.

stray cats
Stray cats - photo strictly copyright MAR - see some of MARs work here Are they less important than show cats?

Homo sapiens believes that he/she is able to think abstractly to a greater degree than other animals. He feels superior to other animals as a consequence. This frees him to abuse other animals of what, he considers, lesser species. The domestic cat is part of the biological family of cats. A "family" in biological classification is one below a "genus", which in turn is one below a "species". Homo sapiens considers cats are part of a lesser species.

Christianity inspires Speciesism. I haven't read any philosophy on this but my view is that Christianity inspires Speciesism because the Bible is very egocentric. It revolves around humans. Animals are a side show, mentioned little and when mentioned in manner implying that they are a lesser species. Cats are never mentioned.

This is to be expected. 2000 or more years ago animals were considered in a different light, more as tools to support human life that was harder. Things have changed but for many people attitudes haven't.

Many millions of people still refer to the Bible as a text from which answers to basic questions about life can be found. The Bible is riddled with contradictions and inaccuracies and was written hundreds of years after the events portrayed by biased people. It is not a text to follow religiously and learn life lessons from in a strict sense. It should be read to get the gist and no more.Values have changed and developed. The Bible also encourages speciesism.

Conventional religion is not a good model or guidance for the treatment of animals including cats, my main area concern. However, many religious people will treat animals well.

A better set of beliefs might be a modern form of Humanism coupled with Utilitarianism. However, Secular humanism can encourage Speciesism. I suppose this is because it is centered around the human, hence its name. But many humanists have a non-speciesism approach to life. Humanism is a philosophy that affirms the dignity and worth of all people (src: Wkipedia). Peter Singer a humanist and philosopher urges humanists to free themselves from one of the central Christian dogmas: "the prejudice of speciesism." If this advice is taken animals (so badly treated as a whole worldwide) would be better treated. This would benefit humankind.

Utilitarianism is a model for living which encourages actions that result in doing the greatest good for the greatest number. If one includes animals in that equation a more harmonious world would ensue, I believe (i.e. benefit animals and humans).

Paganism has a bad name or is misunderstood perhaps because it was maligned by Christians. A modern form of paganism is also more supportive of living in harmony with our fellow creatures.

Another belief that would support animals is Animism. People who support Animism believe that animals and plants have souls. The question whether animals have souls is a vexed one.

Above all, the best belief system is to follow no categorized belief system. Believe in yourself and exercise fairness and respect to all animals be they human animals or what we term animals.

Speciesism to i hate cats

Speciesism - Source:
  • Wikipedia for the belief systems


  1. Would you say predators are "specist" animals? For instance... cats themselves... aren't they specists towards rodents and birds?

  2. Hi,thanks for the comment. Speciesism is a human concept and only a human concept. Animals don't think in that abstract way but act instinctively. In fact the very idea of it is so typically human. It allows us to stand apart from the other animals and ultimately persecute them (e.g. the wild cats) rather then learn to live in harmony.

  3. What you seem to be implying is that our speciecist abstraction allows us to ultimately act like any other predator: to stand apart from other species and persecute them (e.g. like wild cats do).

    Maybe I should include not only all animals, but also all heterotrophic creatures. They all persecute other species. Herbivores persecute plant species. But keeping up with predators (such as cats and humans) is more useful to visualize the concept.

    Nowadays living in harmony with the animals is much more a matter of reducing our numbers to manageable levels (how about 250.000 people in the whole world?) than refraining further (because the way we used to do, even 250.000 people would be leading lots of species into extinction) from hunting.


Your comments are always welcome.

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