Showing posts with label cat domestication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cat domestication. Show all posts

Thursday 11 April 2024

Cat and dog ownership is about pleasing people not the cats and dogs

Of course, in cat and dog ownership the caregivers often do their best to keep their pets happy. And that sentence appears to contradict the title. What I'm saying, though, is that the ultimate goal of a cat or dog owner is most often to please themselves; to find support from their companion animal. That's often the primary objective when people adopt or purchase/adopt a pet.

Human centrism as depicted by an AI computer DALL-E 3.


This primary goal shows itself in how pet ownership has developed over hundreds of years. If you turn the clock back in let's say Britain and look at cat ownership then, cats were allowed much more freedom to behave naturally. There were more community cats in Britain hundreds of years ago.

To allow cats to behave naturally is to please them. Of course hundred years ago there were no veterinary services and therefore cats had a shorter lifespan. They would have been ill more often which makes cats unhappy. 

They would been fed human scraps rather than specially formulated cat food. All these were negatives to cat contentment but at the heart of cat caregiving in the early part of the 19th century cats were allowed behave more naturally compared to today. That's the point I'm making ultimately.

Jumping forward to today, then, although cats and dogs are healthier in some regards today they are, arguably less content. I'll highlight some specific points to support that statement.

And I'm going to refer to an environmental historian who provided advice for an article on The Guardian newspaper online for some pointers on this. Their name is Troy Vettese. Troy said:
“If people really cared about animals, we would only engage in rescues and helping animal sanctuaries’ wildlife rehabilitation – things that we find fulfilling, but that also help the animal. [Instead] we only like relationships where they are easy, where the pets are well maintained, where we can hire a dog walker, where it impinges as little as possible on our life and we are extracting as much emotional support as we want from them."
He regards the relationship as very selfish. It is indeed human-centric. The cat-to-human relationship and the dog-to-human relationship very much centres around what the human wants and desires and gets. Of course, there is a wide spectrum of types of relationship with some being far better than others but that is the underpinning process.


The human-centric nature of pet ownership became very apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cats and dogs were adopted because people were in lockdown. They wanted company. They adopted animals for themselves. They thought less of the long-term future and how they would cope with cat and dog caregiving which resulted in surrenders to rescues and sales on Facebook when the pandemic ended. Another signal of the human-centric nature of pet ownership nowadays.

This led to many reports of shelters being overrun with abandoned pets. The RSPCA were one example who complained about this.


In America, pet ownership has expanded a lot as is the case in the UK and I suspect in other developed countries. A report on the pet industry in the US states that 70% of US households have a pet. A massive upscaling of pet ownership.


But in parallel with that there has been a definite trend towards keeping cats indoors full-time which is good and bad. I have said in the past that people keep their cats indoors full-time primarily for their benefit; for their emotional well-being to prevent them being anxious about their cat when they go outside. Most people don't keep their cats inside to protect wildlife. They keep them inside to feel better themselves. But they don't enrich the indoor environment which leads to an unnatural environment for the cat and a less contented life.

And it is said that dogs have "less and less freedom to move around the world and be dogs". Those are the thoughts of Jessica Pierce, a bioethicist.


And then we can turn to cat and dog breeding. The cat fancy didn't exist before the late 1800s and the same applies to dogs broadly speaking although dog domestication started 20k years ago compared to cats at 10k years ago. 

But since then, selective breeding has created some dogs and cats with extraordinary appearances which are unnatural and frankly unhealthy. Purebred cats and dogs inherit more illnesses than random bred cats and dogs. That's a result of selective breeding. And selective breeding is about pleasing owners. It's a human-centric process. And when you breed animals you kill more shelter animals. Another process which points to pleasing people rather than doing the right thing for companion animals.


Jessica Pierce claims that people nowadays are more likely to treat dogs and cats as objects than they were in the past. This is evident in the selective breeding argument above. Selective breeding is a moulding of a cat or dog so they have an interesting appearance while almost ignoring the health consequences. You couldn't get more human-centric.

Family members

And we know that cats and dogs nowadays are very often treated as family members. Like little people. Like kids. Like toddlers and people buy them clothes sometimes and dress them up. They do this to please themselves but not their cat or dog. And sometimes perhaps rarely dog owners have an artist paint a portrait of their companion animal and hang it over the mantelpiece. Just like a family member.

Starter kids

The business side of the pet ownership industry has burgeoned. And people are having pets rather than children. They sometimes adopt a cat or dog as a starter child. This has upset the current Pope who wants Italians to have children rather than adopt a pet.

The process is one of converting an animal to a human. If you treat a cat or dog as a human you are not really respecting the animal and doing right by the animal. There should be a focus on what an animal needs to be content which means creating a world fit for the animal in which they can express their natural desires.


And people sometimes overindulge their animals which has resulted in what veterinarians describe as an 'obesity epidemic'. Once again this is about people wishing to be nice to their pet resulting in overfeeding and a lack of exercise for their companion animal. Human failings based around but humans want to do and not what is right for their animal.

Emotional support

Pierce claims that often people tend to adopt a dog as a support animal, and emotional aid. She says this is not good for dog health and claims that veterinary literature reports that the level of dog anxiety is "off the charts".

People are asking dogs and cats to fulfil a human need and looking for unconditional love. This appears to be humans controlling their pet to the point where they are only allowed to give unconditional love. If they were allowed more freedoms with they give it?

Focusing on cat and dog needs

Another thought is that even when cat and dog owners are very thoughtful and conscientious they intend to underestimate the needs and desires of their companions. It's difficult to say it but the domestic cat is a top predator. They need to prey on animals to be content. It is their raison d'être. It is the centre of their lives. Bang them up in they home full-time and they can't do it and they become unhappy. They lack mental stimulation and opportunities to do what they want. They sleep all the time. They eat for pleasure. They become fat. Sometimes they suffer from separation anxiety when their owner leaves them alone all day.


Vettese believes that "the boredom of animals is intense." He is referring to parrots stuck in cages bored out of their minds and stressed. But the same can apply to many indoor cats.

The captivity of cats is an issue. The full-time indoor MO makes them zoo animals in effect. And we know how bad zoos are the wild animals and the domestic cat, at heart is a wild animal.

Adopt from rescues

One thing we can do better is to adopt animals from rescue centres only. In line with this, many American jurisdictions are preventing pet shops from selling animals such as cats and dogs and forcing people to adopt them from shelters or the pet shop can be an extension of a shelter. The concept of breeding cats and dogs and then buying them is very human-centric and treating them as objects such as a new car. Dog and cat breeds are about appearance because humans are fascinated with appearance.

Ownership and caregiving

There is a distinction between owning and caring for a companion animal. The concept of ownership is wrong in terms of fostering good cat and dog caregiving. Ownership fosters or reinforces a problematic attitude towards animals and renders them as a property whereas caregiving fosters treating animals as animals. Respecting them more.


I have argued that cat domestication is a failure when considered overall. A thought. Too many feral cats. Each feral cat is a sign of failure.

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.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Cat domestication is a failure in the United States

The statement in the title seems to be exaggerated and plain wrong. It seems to be too negative and unhelpful. It can't be true can it? There are millions of domestic cats in nice homes in America. They are well cared for. They are happy. They live good lives and their human caregivers are nice people. This is all positive. It indicates that cat domestication in America is successful from both the cat and the human's perspective.

But I cannot agree for this reason. And below my reason there some detail on this thanks to Bing's co-pilot who did some research for me.

Cat domestication is a failure in the United States
If you weigh the unhappiness experienced by feral and stray cats and compared it to the happiness experienced by domestic cats in good homes, which is the greater? See below for more on this.

I'm told that the recent figures from the United States estimate that there are 82 million pet cats living happily in people's homes throughout the country. I'm also told that the population of stray and feral cats in the United States is estimated to be between 60 and 100 million. Some estimates are more conservative ranging from 30 to 80 million. Notwithstanding the difference in these estimates, you can see that there is a very similar number of feral and stray cats to the number of domestic cats.

A stray or feral cat lives a very tough and harsh life in both the urban and semi urban environment in the United States. It's hard for them. PETA, the animal advocacy charity consistently state that feral cats are miserable. They argue or have argued that it is more humane to euthanise feral cats rather than operate TNR programs for them. They want to pull them out of their measurable existences and send them to heaven.

A lot of people disagree with that including Nathan Winograd but they make a point. It is difficult to arrive at a conclusion other than that feral and stray cats are likely to be unhappy or indeed miserable, living relatively short lives compared to their domestic cat cousins. 

They are preyed upon by coyotes and other predators, they are shot at by miscreant and unpleasant cat hating people. They are poisoned by similar people. They are denigrated by others who don't want them in the neighbourhood. They are euthanised at cat shelters because they don't want feral cats. There are people who say they should be put back where they came from and left to die.

All in all a bad picture for the millions of feral and stray cat in the United States. If you are going to work out the success of cat domestication you have to weigh up the pros and cons. You have to carry out a balancing act between the good and bad.

Negative spin-off

Stray and feral cats are a negative spin-off, a bad consequence of cat domestication. They are there thanks to the carelessness of humankind. They are a failure in cat domestication. They should not exist at all. Every feral cat is a symptom of failure in the human-to-cat relationship. This was not the end game envisaged by humans when cat domestication first started.


And think of the wildlife that feral and stray cats kill. A lot of people don't like that. This is another aspect of failure in the cat domestication process.

'Weighing' the good and bad in cat domestication

Now let's imagine we add up all the pain and misery suffered by stray and feral cats in the United States. Let's put that pain and misery on a scale and call it negatives. Now let's add up all the happiness and contentment enjoyed by domestic cats in nice homes. Let's call that the positives.

My argument is that the negatives are the same "weight" as the positives" and therefore he cannot say that cat domestication in the United States is successful.

I can add a further factor here. Of the approximate 82 million domestic cats in America at this time, not all of them will be happy. There must be a reasonable percentage who are unhappy because their caregiver simply don't do a good job. I'm going to guess and say that about 10%-15% of human caregivers of domestic cats are underperforming and the cats are unhappy. This further adds to the equation I mention above and it tips it in favour of cat domestication failure. What do you think?

Number of stray and feral cats in the USA - 2024

In the United States, the population of stray and feral cats is estimated to be between 60 and 100 million. These cats, once they leave the comfort of our homes, become one of America’s most impactful invasive species. They pose ecological, economic, and ethical challenges for animal welfare groups. The issue of unowned cats has long been a community concern.

Here are some key points about stray and feral cats:

  1. Origins of Stray and Feral Cats:
    • The general understanding among experts is that the homeless cat population is growing and currently sits at around 60–100 million cats. Some estimates are more conservative, ranging from 30–80 million.
    • Only 85% of pet cats are spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering pets is crucial for controlling stray and feral cat populations. When pets escape or roam outside, they can mate with neighborhood cats, perpetuating the problem. The closer we get to 100% pet neutering, the more we reduce the strain on welfare groups and the current homeless cats in our communities.
    • Roughly 15% of cat owners lose their pets at some point during a 5-year period. Cats and dogs tend to roam when the front door swings open. However, only 75% of lost cats are recovered, compared to a 93% return rate for dogs. Over a five-year period, this translates to over 3 million cats becoming lost and never returning home.

The challenge of managing stray and feral cat populations requires a collective effort from pet owners, animal shelters, and governments to address this complex issue.

Number of domestic cats in the US - 2024

In the United States, cats are the most popular house pet, with approximately 90 million domesticated cats residing in around 34% of U.S. homes. That’s quite a feline presence across the nation!

To break it down further:

  • The average number of cats per household is 1.78.
  • There are approximately 123.6 million households in the U.S. according to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data.
  • Roughly 26% of households have at least one cat.

So, if we do the math, we get approximately 82 million pet cats living happily in people’s homes throughout the country. That’s a whole lot of purring companions! 🐾🐱

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.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts