Friday 23 September 2011

Cat Euphemisms

Some euphemisms of the cat world are disturbing. We do like to hide from the reality of what we do. A euphemism is the act of substituting a mild or vague term for one that might be considered harsh or blunt. They can serve a useful purpose but they can also deflect us from the truth. Only by addressing the truth are we able to make advances by correcting wrongdoing. Euphemisms hold us back and that certainly applies to the cat world.

An innocuous euphemism is the word "scat". It means animal faeces, excrement. It is used by scientists when describing, for example, DNA analysis of a tiger's faeces when conducting a tiger count. Scat analysis is also used to ascertain a cat's diet.

An example of a euphemism in the domestic cat world that is positively dangerous (to cats!) in the way it is used is the word, "euthanasia" or "euthanise". Euthanasia is  meant to describe the humane killing of a cat that is seriously ill with an incurable disease and in permanent pain. To "put an animal to sleep" is a similar euphemism. Unfortunately is is used when killing perfectly healthy cats, feral and domestic by the millions.

Another horror of a euphemism that perpetuates an ugly trade is "declawing". It conjures up the removal of a part the cat's claw. As we know it actually misrepresents what is the amputation of the last digit of the cat's toes. That means the whole claw and the bone to which it is attached. Think of the last part of your finger - it's that. The word declawing must have been invented by vets as it makes the operation sound completely acceptable when it clearly is immoral.

An interesting "reverse euphemism" is the phrase "to cull a breeding cat". This does not mean the killing of a cat that is a breeder at a cattery because he or she has an undesirable trait. It simply means the removal of the cat from the breeding process.

We also use the phrase "meat eater" to describe a cat's dietary habits. Cats actually eat an animal's flesh, bone and internal organs. "Meat" is for humans to hide the fact that we are eating flesh.

I would like see people in the cat world being a little less politically correct and more direct in their writings and discussions. We can then get a better handle on what is wrong and make corrections.

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