Sunday 10 December 2023

Many couples who adopt a cat or dog do so as a starter child

I've just read a survey which I think was conducted in America which contains one startling piece of information namely that 40% of American cat and dog owners adopted their companion animal as a kind of 'starter child' to see whether they were able to cope and do a good job. It's a kind of test in preparation for the real thing. That's my interpretation.

And it's a bit worrying, I think, because it means on a strict interpretation of that statistic (acquired by the poll company OnePoll) that 40% of Americans are adopting cats and dogs for the wrong reason! Or am I being too tough.

Perhaps it's a kind of two-stage process. They decide that they will get married and then they decide to have children but are not completely sure about it so they tell each other let's adopt a cat or dog first and we will gradually build up to producing a child. That's my take on this. And of course they keep the cat or dog once they have created their offspring or at least I hope they do.

In respect of cats there is actually a probably significant number of women who decide to get rid of the family cat at the time they have a child because they believe that they might acquire toxoplasmosis from their cat which can dramatically affect their pregnancy. 

There is this genuine problem with toxoplasmosis which as you know is a zoonotic disease which can be transferred from the cat via oocysts in the cat's faeces which are only present for a short period of time in their entire lives to the human. The cat is a vector for this zoonosis.

Pregnant women can deal with this problem with common sense strategies such as getting someone else to clean up the cat litter tray but the fear is there. And it must be added that unwashed vegetables and undercooked meats are far more dangerous in acquiring toxoplasmosis that the family cat.

Anyway, I am digressing. The point is that the domestic cat or dog can be a starter child.

I've touched on the issue of cat and dog poop above and unsurprisingly almost half of the respondents, of which there were 2000, in this survey said that they had little panic attacks about their pet's bowel movements. And a similar percentage (47%) were concerned that their dog or cat were eating normally and that their pet's poop was of a good consistency.

The survey produced the general finding that, nowadays, there is a great desire to treat the family's companion animal, usually cats or dogs, as true members of that family and in doing this people tend to anthropomorphise i.e. humanise their pet. This is lovely in one way because it means the animal gets a lot of great treatment but slightly problematic in another way in that they might expect something from their pet which they can't deliver.

Sometimes, in a modification of that expectation management problem, people regard their cat as a dog and once again there may be expectation problems. It's important for people to respect a cat as a cat and a dog is a dog and understand their natural behaviours which will lead to great communication and an environment in which both cat and dog can thrive.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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