Domestication and Pet Ownership
Ethically seen it is quite obvious – domestication and pet ownership violate the fundamental rights of non-human animals. When talking about basic animal rights, then we really should only talk about one basic right – the right not to be regarded as ‘property’. If we agree on the fact that human and non-human animals are not ‘things’ or ‘objects’, then they cannot be a property. Also, if human and non-human animals are regarded as ‘objects’, then they logically cannot have an intrinsic value, and therefore they cannot have any rights. Only the owner of an object, or in our case a pet, has got rights, not the object or the pet itself.
Having said that, most pet owners may choose to treat their pets as valued members of their family. The law will protect that decision, because the owner may choose to value his or her property as he or she likes. However, the fact remains, under the existing legal system pets are objects, and they are therefore regarded as property. Animal welfare laws make no difference whatsoever in this respect, they only regulate some aspects of pet ownership, but nothing more. Pet owners have the legal right to treat their animals as they see fit, as long as they provide for minimal food, water and shelter. This leaves an immense grey area for emotional and physical negligence and abuse.
Another fact to consider is that pets are domesticated animals, who are completely dependent on humans, who control every aspect of their lives. These animals have been bred to be compliant, servile and to please humans, even though many of those inbred characteristics are harmful to the animals themselves. Domesticated animals do not belong in our human world, irrespective of how well we treat them. However, they do not belong into the wild either. They are perpetually dependent on us. Humans control their lives forever, which makes them effectively slaves!
Due to these circumstances, and because of this derived responsibility, adoption of rescue animals should be given utmost priority. At the same time, breeding of pets needs to be discouraged and outlawed. Caring for a pet is a big responsibility. It is a commitment for the entire life of the animal concerned. Home and lifestyle need to be suitable for the pet. This applies to cats too. Owning a pet cat requires an investment in time and money, similar to a dog, and should only be considered, if one can provide an appropriate and safe environment. This does not only include the provision of appropriate food, water, shelter, health care, enrichment and companionship. As with any pet, cats should not never be exposed to distress or discomfort. Cats should be properly identified and micro-chipped. Their registration information in associated databases needs to be kept up-to-date. Owners are encouraged to avoid overpopulation through spaying and neutering. It goes without saying that preventive and therapeutic health care has to be provided for the life of the cat in consultation with, and as recommended by, an experienced veterinarian. Negative impact on other people, other non-human animals and the environment must be avoided. This includes proper waste disposal, noise control and not allowing cats to stray or become feral. It also involves the provision of sufficient exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to age, breed and health status of the animal concerned. As proven by many responsible cat owners, all this can easily be achieved by keeping and caring for cats indoors or in adequate domestic cat enclosures.
Top Reasons to Keep Cats Indoors
- To monitor your cats urinary tract and bowel health. Observing a cat’s painful attempts to poop, or finding blood or mucus in the faeces is a red flag for constipation, bowel blockage or megacolon.
- Cats allowed free access to the outdoors invariably come into contact with other cats. Even casual contact can transmit parasites and serious diseases like feline leukaemia, peritonitis, distemper or zoonosis.
- Indoor cats do not get hit by cars. Several studies have found that road traffic accidents are a common cause of injury and death for outdoor-access cats.
- Indoor cats do not create neighbour problems. Roaming cats will venture into neighbours’ gardens. Some people may not tolerate cats using their gardens as litter boxes and may resort to extreme measures.
- Indoor cats rarely get abscesses. Cats are territorial and will defend their territory if challenged by another cat. These battles often result in abscessed wounds, which can be deadly, if not treated in time.
- Indoor cats are safe from human abuse. Free roaming cats are easy targets for cat haters, who seek cats out for target practice or for neighbours, who would think nothing of killing a cat for trespassing.
- Indoor cats can get plenty of exercise. They can get it safely with interactive toys, climbing towers, scratching posts and other indoor toys – much safer than running from dogs or fighting with cats.
- Indoor cats do not get lost. As outdoor cats widen their outdoor territories, they may become lost long enough to be ‘rescued’ by other cat lovers, legitimate rescue groups or picked up as strays.
- Indoor cats are not stolen. Unfortunately stealing dogs and cats is becoming an increasingly popular crime as it is difficult to track animals down and they can be sold on or bred from for large amounts of money.
- Indoor cats do not freeze in winter. Weather conditions can change very rapidly and mild weather can turn stormy and cold. Cats can die quickly from hypothermia when left outside, particularly at night.
- Indoor cats are not a danger to wildlife. Cats are domesticated animals and pets. Cats are predators too, but they do not belong into our native ecosystem. Unsupervised cats will kill birds, rabbits and other wildlife.
- Cats have the ability to form deep social bonds with their owners, just as dogs do. They feel stress when the owner leaves, and they seek proximity to the owner, when he or she returns.