Should we socialise wildcats? Well, of course we should if we keep our wild cat as a pet. You have to, otherwise it will be impossible. Wildcats have a natural fear or distrust of the human, which translates into defensive aggression and that leads to a lot of trouble for both parties.
The question then is should we keep wild cats as pets? This is a personal choice, obviously. I disagree with it because we admire the wildcat for what he or she is. A big part of our admiration is related to the fact that the cat is wild, free and independent, courageous etc.
If you emasculate the wildcat by making it dependent on the human, it seems to me that you take away that which you admire. Unless you admire more the appearance of the cat.
Without wishing to be judgmental or critical, I feel that people who wish to keep exotic felines (small wildcats in practice) are being a little self indulgent. They want to own a pretty object. And the small wildcats are very pretty. Many have wonderful coats, which is why they are hunted and poached.
And without wishing to be sexist in any way, is it the woman who takes the lead in acquiring a small wildcat as a pet? I just read a story about a couple in Texas who kept three tigers as pets. When asked why, the husband said that his wife went out and bought one without consulting him. Women like cats and women like the exotic. Well there you have it. Also it might be fair to say that women tend not to look at the wider issues because they are less likely to be involved in them.
The wider issue is conservation. I think that we all have a responsibility to do our bit to conserve and protect the wildcats which are in general threatened and persecuted by people because they either get in the way or are good business.
To desire to acquire a small wildcat as a pet is pandering to one's natural instincts to own a possession and control a wild animal. Not all of our instincts are good for the world. In fact a lot of them are not.
Humans have a tendency to destroy what they desire and admire. We admire the jaguar and kill it. The same goes for the tiger. The rarer the tiger becomes the more likely it is to be killed. Rather than admire the tiger's coat in the wild we prefer to wear the coat.
Should be socialise wildcats? For me, no. We should give them space to be themselves - beautifully wild.
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