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Cat Breeders and Animal Rights

Sarah Palin and dead bear
Sarah Palin and dead bear, sport hunted. Photo: smiteme

Cat breeders and animal rights activists are really the two sides of the same coin or they should be. But you wouldn't believe it the way they attack each other. Cat breeders should (and most are) sensitive towards animals. They care about their cats. They grant their cats lots of rights. They are, in one sense, animal rights people.

However, although I am not against cat breeders I don't like they way that some tend to brand people who fight for animal rights, "AR extremists" (Animal Rights extremists). Some cat breeders tend to brand all people who fight for animal rights as extremists. It seems to be some sort of defense mechanism. Breeders sometimes feel under attack from AR people and defend themselves by insinuating that animal rights people are "extremists", meaning unbalanced people of criminal intent thereby insulting them and giving the impression that they are not worth listening to.

This is clearly wrong. Only a very tiny minority of people who are concerned with animal rights become "extremists" and most of that tiny minority take peaceful and legal action. This is a good thing, surely, and cat breeders should welcome it. In the eyes of some people, even the AR people who break the law have a good reason to do so. The law, after all, is not always that effective is it? How effective are animal rights laws in protecting vulnerable animals? Take laboratory experiments, for example. I would bet that a decent number of cat breeders are against animal experimentation but feel powerless to change things. It is legal after all. Yet they would criticise AR extremists who fight at the sharp end to change the law and protect innocent animals (including cats) who are experimented upon in the name of commerce, the making of a buck.

For me the point is this. Cat breeders and animal rights should and most often do go together. I don't see an absolute reason why cat breeding should not exist. Provided it is done in a highly responsible way and the global and wider picture is noted. I don't think cat breeders cause the feral cat problem; it's the buyers. Anyway cat breeders breed purebred cats and buyers of purebred cats are usually, nearly always, very responsible people in relation to caring for their cats.

So, AR people should lighten up a little on attacking cat breeders and cat breeders should start talking to AR people and find a common method of proceeding. Cat breeders and animal rights people should be two sides of the same coin.

Update 16th Jan 2009: A visitor made a comment saying I didn't know the meaning of animal rights. I think this person has a narrow view of animal rights. This is a definition: The concept that animals are entitled to certain fundamental rights such as the right to be spared undue suffering. Such fundamental rights are not necessarily compromised by cat breeders. The small wild cat of his/her own volition became domesticated and lives a more secure life domesticated than in the wild. That is why they became domesticated.

Update 12th Feb 2009: I have just noticed Ingrid Newkirk's views on breeding and pet ownership. I agree with her that we should use the term companion animal and not ownership of animals. The law is slow to change on this. But she is against the concept of companions animals totally it seems. I wonder why. The concept of companionship is a positive one. The idea being that both sides benefit. After all, as mentioned, the wild cat would not have allowed herself to become domesticated if the process did not benefit her. Yes, pet ownership and the domestic cat situation has got out of hand. There are a number of negative these days for the cat that is domesticated. For instance, the cat has to live indoors to be safe. We have created a world hostile to the cat outdoors. Humans have screwed up, no doubt, but at the beginning of domestication many thousands of years ago the relationship worked well. We shoudn't throw out the baby with the bath water but modify the process of cats or dogs as companion animals not eliminate it.

Update 21-2-09: A thought: Do cat breeders of purebred cats (responsible cat breeders by and large) affect the rights of feral cats? - ANS: No. Do cats have rights before they are born? ANS: No. Do purebred cats receive excellent animal rights? ANS: Yes nearly all of the time.

Cat Breeders and Animal Rights to Home Page

Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions

Photo: creative commons


Unknown said…
This is absurd - how can an animal breeder claim to be upholding animal rights ?

I think they don't understand the concept of animal rights!
Eileen said…
I don't think you understand the concept of animal rights. Animal rights is the belief that animals are not our to use in any way. AR is AGAINST animals for food, in entertainment, and as pets. People who are breeding cats are doing so for use as pets, which AR are against. So to AR breeding any animal, no matter how responsible done is wrong because that means that the animal bred will lead a life os "slavery" in a human home.

For this reason it is difficult to work a common ground with AR believers. Captivity for an animal, no matter how well the animal is treated is bad. It would be ideal to come up with a standard level of care for all animals, & then AR folks could work to raise the standards of care instead of working to ban them, and remove our rights to ownership. But Like I said they oppose ownership of animals as their fundamental belief.
Michael Broad said…
Hi, thanks for the comments. I don't think that it is necessarily against a cat's rights to live with a human. The cat and human chose to co-habit 9,000 years ago. It could be argued that a domestic cat has more rights than a wild cat. It would seem to be dependent on what brand of animal rights one is concerned with. I think animal rights at the extreme level (no pets at all) may be detrimental to cats. So whose rights are being supported? I'd be pleased to hear your arguments as to why it is against a cat's rights to be domesticated when the cat is better protected (i.e. has more rights) in law domesticated than in the wild.

Also breeders bestow more rights on cats than some other people. The point I am making is that the positions need not be so polarized. Breeders think AR people are extremists. I say they are not. But perhaps there is a brand of AR activism or thought that could be said to be against the welfare of cats. I am not sure.
Unknown said…

My first comment was brief and to the point as I was short of time - Eileen has explained most of the things I meant.

It's not just 'extreme' ARs who are against keeping 'pets', its in most AR doctrine that I'm aware of.

Certainly, no cat breeder can claim to be 'upholding animal rights' no matter how 'well looked after' the animals are.

Do the cats have a choice of who they are sold to, for instance ? Notice the 'sold to' would also portray exploitation of the animals - another reason why no cat breeder can claim to be 'upholding Animal Rights'!

Also, please explain what happens to all those thousands of cats every year that are overbred. What do those breeders who are 'upholding animal rights' do with all those cute little kittens they can't sell ?
Michael Broad said…
Hi, Thanks for the comment. I don't think that the keeping of pets is automatically against animal rights. If the relationship between cat and human is one of equality, which it often is and if the cat is a stray cat taken in, then it is hard to say that the cat's rights are being abused. As I said the cat wanted to be domesticated and it is to mutual benefit very often. Both human and cat receive rights under these circumstances such as the right to be treated with respect and the right to life and security. The concept of cat living with human is actually a very tender one and an example of extraordinary co-operation between two animal species. This is to be commended at a fundamental level.

As for breeders I agree that the rights of the cat (or dog) are dependent on humans. The cat has no choice who they are sold to. This is a reflection on the world generally. Many people don't have fundamental rights either. But it could be argued that selling a cat is in fact simply paying a breeder for caring for the cat until handed over to a new keeper. Not strictly selling. I did also mention that cat breeding is only acceptable if the wider issues are noted. I mean a situation where there are no feral cats that need rehoming.

As to overbreeding this is a clear breach of animal rights, I agree that - it is to be deplored. Once again I am saying that cat breeding is not in an absolute sense a breach of a cat's rights but it can be.

What I am also saying is that some AR people might have too black and white a view of animal rights when a more balanced approach from both sides of the fence (AR-v-Breeder) may in fact result in an improvement in animal rights in an imperfect world. That is both sides work together rather than slagging each other off.

We need to work in a very imperfect setting, which requires practical and pragmatic methods. I am an animal rights person but would like to see real progress over simple argument.
Unknown said…

Gary Francione on keeping 'pets' :

GARY FRANCIONE : We live with five dogs. We adopted four from a shelter at which they would have been killed and one came off from the street.

I love our canine companions, but if there were only two dogs left in the world and it were up to me whether we should breed them to make more "pets," my answer would be "NO"!

We should not be bringing domesticated animals into the world. And this includes dogs, cats, etc.

We should take care of those that are here as they cannot take care of themselves - that is what it means to be a "domestic" animal.

But we should not cause more domestic animals to come into existence.

As to rights for bred cats; what rights do the females have as to whether they want to be money making breeding machines or not ?

What happens to the females that are worn out and can't breed any more ?

As long as there is breeding, there will be overbreeding. Saying it's sad won't make it go away.

I could go on, but don't have the time!
Unknown said…
To the author :

"Such fundamental rights are not necessarily compromised by cat breeders. "

Such fundamental rights ? You only listed one - list the other 'fundamental rights' and state which ones are/are not 'compromised by cat breeders'.

Also, feel free to answser the questions posed to FF!
Michael Broad said…
Hi, I've not actually seen a list of animal rights that are the equivalent of human rights (as set out in the Human Rights Act). If you guys can list them that would be great. I would have thought that in the UK the Animal Welfare Act 2006 contains reference to what is expected in this section:

Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare

Proper and caring welfare for domestic cats (animals) will bring the requisite rights to the animal. As for wild animals a right to be left alone to allow the animal to behave normally must be one of the fundamental rights. That means no sport hunting and the space (and prey) in which to survive normally.

I am probably more animal rights than 99% of the population but I don't see animal rights improving on a year by year basis despite AR efforts. I suggest a change of tactics.
Unknown said…
Hi Freddie

Making a person responsible for the welfare of an animal is not bestowing rights on that animal.

You haven't answered any of my points re the rights of cats kept for breeding, if you wish me to continue to post references, etc, then please engage in discussion, don't just ask me for more references!

You claim to be into Animal Rights, so what rights do you wish animals to have ?
Unknown said…
Hi Freddie

Making a person responsible for the welfare of an animal is not bestowing rights on that animal.

You haven't answered any of my points re the rights of cats kept for breeding, if you wish me to continue to post references, etc, then please engage in discussion, don't just ask me for more references!

You claim to be into Animal Rights, so what rights do you wish animals to have ?
Michael Broad said…
Hi Dave, As I said I don't see a list of animal rights set out by animal rights people. You are an animal rights person but are asking me for a list of animal rights. It would be nice if you could tell me what rights animal should have. There should be a list. I'd be pleased if you could direct me to a list of animal rights as required by AR people. Do you know a website where they are set out?
Unknown said…
Hi Freddie

Where have I stated I'm an Animal Rights person ?

You've already had the concept of AR posted by Eileen relating to AR being against 'pets'.

You've had Gary Francione's comment ie :

"We should take care of those that are here as they cannot take care of themselves - that is what it means to be a "domestic" animal.

But we should not cause more domestic animals to come into existence."

Why do you ask for a list of Animal Rights ? For the purpose of this discussion - ie why it's absurd for a cat breeder to claim to uphold Animal Rights - you've had more than ample explanations and references.

Yet, on the other hand, you refuse to answer reasonable questions posed to you and you don't even acknowledge let alone comment on the references you've been given.

As stated in my last post, I'm not here to provide a reference service; if you wish to have a discussion, that's fine but please don't ignore all my comments and questions and then demand I provide yet more references whilst being completely unwilling to actually engage in discussion!

Why do you not want to answer any of the questions I've asked of you ?

Just a quick guide for you - if you type list fundamental animal rights into Google, you'll be inundated with pages of information on the basic rights for animals being asked for by AR groups/orgs/individuals.

Try this one from one of those 'extremist' websites :

You'll find most AR pages (I've briefly looked at a random 3 from the first page of results on Google) have a FAQ section and surprisingly, one of the main questions is around the theme of "so what are rights for animals/what rights can we give animals" (much as this one is...) so I'm surprised you need me to post references for you.

Are you now going to start answering some of the questions asked of you in previous posts, or comment on the references you've been given ?
Michael Broad said…
Hi Dave, thanks for the time to comment so much. I appreciate it. I don't really want to get into a big discussion though as I haven't the time or inclination! Yes, there are a lot of animal rights websites but I think that they have difficulty in formulating the actual rights. Here is an attempt at the kind of rights we should grant domestic animals (I think the rights have to be tailored to (a) domestic (b) wild and (c) livestock. For domestic:

1. The right to life
2. freedom from torture and degrading treatment
3. freedom to behave in a natural manner
4. the right to receive proper welfare from the human keeper commensurate with the animals natural requirements
5. freedom from medical treatments and procedures that are carried out in the sole interest of humans
6. the right to be treated as a companion animal and not farm animal animal bred for human consumption.

That is my poor attempt. It applies solely to domestic animals.
Unknown said…
Hi Freddie

I don't really want a huge discussion on Animal Rights either.

The fact that you are wanting to grant different 'rights' to various groups of animals would suggest you're more into animal welfare than animal rights.

Is it not degrading for a cat to be nothing but a biological breeding machine ?

Is it natural behaviour for an animal to be continually bred and then watch as her offspring are either sold off or killed because they can't be sold ?

What proper welfare is advocated towards the mother cats that have finished their breeding usefulness or the kittens that can't be sold ?

If you replace 'human consumption' with 'human exploitation', where does that leave cat breeders and animal rights ?
Michael Broad said…
Hi Dave, I basically agree that cat breeding is against a cat's rights. I just think the arguments are quite complicated and not straightforward. I think we are basically on the same page we just see the process of ensuring animals get rights a bit differently.

I think I'll leave it there but thanks for the challenging thoughts. Take care.
Unknown said…
Hi Freddie

I think it's straightforward - you can't keep a cat as a money-making breeding machine and then claim to be upholding the rights of that animal!

Your thoughts are more welfare related (ie be nice to the cat whilst making money from it) than rights related. You haven't answered the questions as to what happens to these worn out breeding machines when they are no longer able to make money for their 'owners' or what happens to the kittens that can't be homed and how this relates to their 'rights'.

Your preferred way (ie welfare) is probably one of the biggest impediments to animal rights that will have to be overcome if there ever is a way to ensure animals have rights.

We are not on the same page (on many levels) - just because I understand something doesn't mean I'm for it or an advocate of it.
Anonymous said…
I believe that we should all work together. We are exposing the breeder as a bad person. What about if the breeder is a good one. Has been doing so for years. She goes beyond most of her fellow breeders and will even alter her animals and give them the inoculations they need before they go. She doesnt think all of money.. She has been known to even turn adoptees away when she feels they are not appropriate for her kittens. NOT ALL breeders are bad. Some care for there animals dearly. They are part of there family members and are treated as so. They are not believed as big MONEY makers or as someone said.. SLAVES.
Also, please remember if the animals were not in our homes.. they would be stricken by oncoming traffic, eatten by animals and bears too. As Far as animal Right people.. Yes, there are fights between us.. Its sad.. I believe its because they see breeding done in BIG MILLS. Honestly I would not want to see that either. I would be sickened by it. I feel any normal person would be. I also believe it must be very hard for any human being to have to see what the animal rights people have to see. (probably on a everyday basis) But, knocking each other down will NOT solve our problem.
I do not believe good breeders are not the problem. I do believe bad pet owners that do not want cats anymore are.. They throw them out along the road or at farms. They become ferral. No one can keep up with the kitten population. Please understand that no one can find homes for these cats if you cant hold them! Who wants a cat in there house if they will destroy it.
I have a wonderful Idea... For every person out there that has a opinion about breeders and animal rights... and puts a post on here.
Take yourself down to your local food store.. Buy a bag of catfood and bring it to the shelter of your choice. It will keep an animal alive for a few more days. Yes, I will do the same.
I already donate.
Thanks for reading..Yes, I raise Ragdoll cats.. I am a Breeder.. I hate that word.. Breeder.. I have a handful of kittens a year that will be Spayed or neutered with there 3 shots before going home.
I am a responsible breeder that goes beyond most. Mom and Dad are here with me as my PETS!! (as it should be)
Anonymous said…
We should foster rationality in all animals capable of it. If you care about animals, focus on promoting that which is possible in man, the height of his rationality. It is easy to be disgusted at a being capable of greatness, but choosing so often to live like a bug; but if you want to affect lasting change, you need to idealize what is possible in humans.

One day we won't require the death of any animal to produce "meat." Fight for science, and for the right of individuals to pursue their values, which to rational creatures includes other lifeforms, and you will see amazing advances. You are attacking the symptom, not the disease of self-hate that destroys human achievement and honest empathy with our animal friends.
Anonymous said…
Rights are not granted. Rights are required by the nature of rational lifeforms and the proper relationship of individuals in any social structure, they exist whether you acknowledge them or not. If you operate to physically harm another, you forfeit your rights to that individual. If I kick a dog, I shouldn't be surprised if it bites me. Just because humans happen to possess, arguably, a greater capacity for rationality does not mean we possess "more" rights. We simply have a greater potential for operating without destroying our inalienable rights.

So far we have yet to understand fully how to implement individual rights among ourselves, keep dreaming if you think we'll have a revelation about other animals when we can't even get the "golden rule" applied to our neighbors. The fight must be fought systematically, starting with what should be the easiest step: a rational human society that protects the individual rights of humans.

Also, if you think rights are "economic" in nature, as in you have a right to a thing- please stay away from either human specific rights or generic animal rights. Rights mean freedom from coercion/physical force, they are social/political, not economic.
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