Sunday 4 July 2010

Cat Experts Aim Too Low

When cat experts give advice about cats they often aim too low. What I mean is their advice is too heavily compromised and modified by what suites us and not what is in the best interests of the cat.

Let me give you a good example. The expert in this instance is Linda P Case who wrote a book I sometimes refer to and which is called, The Cat, It's Behavior, Nutrition & Health. She writes on page 180-181 about, "Undesirable predation". How can predation by undesirable for the cat? It is completely natural for a domestic cat to prey on small animals. We all know that. This advise is too people orientated.

In order to stop this undesirable behavior we are advise to bang up our cats, indoors, on a permanent basis. Job done, problem solved. Or is it? A lot of cats who are full-time indoor cats will find alternative outlets for their desire to hunt and some of these will be abnormal behavioral conditions; conditions that are stress related such as overgrooming or OCD conditions such as tail biting. The cat might suffer hair loss through stress in my opinion.

More importantly, I feel that the advise should be more optimistic and more adventurous and certainly more in keeping with the best interests of the cat. And it should seek to provide as natural an environment as possible surely?

The better and more absolutely correct advice is to encourage people to build enclosures. In my view, in an ideal world we should be thinking much wider than simply forcing the domestic cat to acclimatise to an unnatural life indoors to suite us. Of course a cat indoors can't get run over by a car. But if we gave more effort to figuring out how to protect cats from cars or keeping cars away from cats or slowing down cars, that sort of thing, then we would come up with a better solution for us and that cat in the long term.

For instance, in an ideal world no one should keep a cat unless that person had safe enclosed land to allow the cat to roam and behave naturally. And people who keep cats should sign a declaration that they accept all of the cat's behavioral traits. We need to accept the fact that our cat might bring in a half alive mouse and then play with it. If we can't accept that don't keep a cat. How simple is that?

The bottom line answer to "undesirable predation" is to relabel it "desirable and acceptable predation" and to thoroughly accept it. To bang up a cat to stop it behaving naturally is little better than declawing it.

Linda, for me, your advise is too conditioned by conventional human experience and knowledge. It is not expansive and novel enough. It is predictably American and in America there is a tendency to see the cat as a fluffy moving object whose purpose is to amuse people and not as the most effective predator on the planet.

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