Stream of Consciousness: Cat Edition

If you want to get good and depressed, check out the free section on Kijiji.ca. I recently took a browse through there hoping to find a cheap dresser – apparently I have way too many clothes – but immediately became sidetracked by the overwhelming number of cats and kittens listed as “free to a good home.”  Such advertisements probably amount to at least 30 percent of the free space. I was so dismayed, I even took this screen shot to show you.

Right after doing so I threw a blanket over my head and cried.

The current cat situation is just… I don’t even know. I mean, after seeing the HBO movie One Nation Under Dog on the weekend I realized the dog situation is even worse than I thought. And I’d thought it was pretty freaking bad. If dogs are still being left to die on the street in North America, if the animals our society actually kinda values are still treated like garbage, how much more awful is it for cats?

I know for a fact my municipality doesn’t give a rat’s ass about felines. Wait, I am wrong, that is exactly what they give. Cats in this community are on the level of vermin. They have no protection in our by-laws whatsoever. The only mention has to do with nuisance issues. Cats only factor in slightly higher than mice, just below pigeons. Maybe one step higher than mosquitoes, but certainly well below raccoons.

Okay, I am being slightly facetious. I hardly believe there should be a hierarchy of animals in the human value system. But when the zero dollar worth we attribute to cats is so blatantly displayed as it was in the Kijiji ads, it makes me a little crazy. I don’t think it needs to be said – but I’ll say it anyway – I saw no free dog ads in my search.

What does “free to a good home” even mean? How does a potential cat owner prove oneself? If no money changes hands, no papers are signed, it’s not like they owe anyone anything. In my opinion a good home for a cat is one which will at least get said cat spayed or neutered, on top of the usual food, water, shelter requirements.

I’ll admit freely, I am guilty of spending more time and money on my dog than on my cat. It’s not fair in the slightest. The manager of the pet store even brought it up when I was talking to him about food. He said he is always stunned when people bring the most expensive raw dog food up to the counter and then place a bag of Friskies beside it.

There are historical reasons for this, obviously. Dogs have been domesticated much longer than cats. Dogs are our friends, our helpers, our protectors. Originally, we only kept cats because they killed the things we didn’t want around. Selective breeding in dogs has been a practice for centuries. Most cat breeds are less than thirty years old and the breeds are based almost solely on appearance.

Yes, I know. I’ve droned on and on about the plight of cats many times before. Maybe it’s partly guilt for ignorantly disliking them for so long, maybe I just hope if I keep talking about them I’ll come up with a world-changing solution.  But how does one raise the value of an entire species when we can’t even get people to stop hating on dogs with square heads?

This post was a lot less useful than I wanted it to be. I promise there will be at least ten percent less complaining tomorrow.

23 thoughts on “Stream of Consciousness: Cat Edition

  1. There’s actually a “give or donate” section in the pet listings on kijiji where there are even more cats posted, but you’ll see a couple of dogs there too (though unsurprisingly they go quicker than the cats). Unfortunately there just isn’t much of a spay&neuter program around here. My friend went to get his two cats neutered and it cost him $300 PER CAT. I paid that much to get a large dog spayed in Quebec. It’s ridiculous and terrible (and preventable). Of course we’re just coming out of cat breeding season around here so it’s that much worse–a lot of the people on there probably tried taking their cats to the spca and got turned away because they were full.

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  2. It makes me so sad. The number of cats and kittens that flood (I’m talking epic Biblical flood) shelters, rescues, craigslist/kijiji is absolutely ridiculous. People letting intact kitties run free outside, having large colonies of intact cats, people not realizing that females can start producing kitten as young as 5 months old are all huge causes for the kitty population booms during the spring/summer months.

    What’s so sad is a shelter that houses 40-50 dogs may have 300+ cats (on the floor in the shelter, in the back cages at a shelter, or in foster care)… The number of cats euthanized for space can be massive. They just don’t get adopted as quickly and they just keep coming in.

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  3. Thanks for writing about this, Kristine. I’m such a dog person myself that I often neglect to think about the lifestyles of homeless cats vs. homeless dogs. You’re absolutely right that cats have it way worse than dogs, do; the trend of “free kittens” on Craigslist is very prevalent in my area, too. Only rarely do you see a “free dog.” I wonder what can be done to change public perception of cats’ values.

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  4. Ugh. It’s sickening, for sure. I hate it. I also find it fascinating – in a train wreck kind of way – to hear, “people bring the most expensive raw dog food up to the counter and then place a bag of Friskies beside it.” No amount of reasoning this away makes sense. These are our family members. Treating them as lessers than the dog? I’m as befuddled as you are.

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    • Hi Kim – so nice to see your name (and face!). It’s been too long! Thanksliving is almost upon us again!
      It’s sad but i do believe that for some reason cats are lower on the pet/animal hierarchy 😦

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  5. I’ll admit I have to make a conscious effort to give my cat as much attention as the dogs get, but they get obnoxious when ignored and she doesn’t seem to mind as long as the food is forthcoming and there is a warm place to nap.

    One state, i believe it’s Texas, has a law that if you steal a dog it’s a felony, but if you steal a cat…you get a free cat.

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  6. I never thought about cats being seen as a “lesser” pet, but you’re right. I’ve thought about getting a cat, but only when I had a problem with mice! Cats just aren’t my thing, but I like to think that cat people would dote on them as I do my dogs. I know many people who do. But, you’re right, they aren’t put on the same level as dogs. Unfair and wrong.

    When I lived down south(Louisiana), there were free dogs available all the time (I brought one home myself once). Usually, people sat in the walmart parking lot with a “free puppies” sign. That was 20 years ago. I wonder if that’s still the case. When I moved back north, I was looking for a dog at a humane society. A man came in with a box of 3 pitbull puppies. The humane society told him they would be put to sleep, because of their breed. Well, my husband and I took the puppies to a Walmart parking lot and put up a “free puppies” sign! They were gone in an hour. I often wonder how their lives turned out. Hopefully they were happy.

    Thankfully, the humane society has changed their policy on pitbulls and puts them up for adoption.

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  7. In her talk at BlogPaws, Betsy Banks Saul (Petfinder) talked about how cats are the number 1 problem facing animal welfare. I have to admit, until her talk I hadn’t given the magnitude of the problem much thought. But I think you’re absolutely right: The value placed on cats is much lower than dogs, and until there’s a shift in values, how can we expect to make headway in the logistical issues? So sad.

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  8. The situation for cats is so much worse than for dogs. You’re right to bring attention to it.

    And some cat lovers perpetuate the problem. They let their cats run free and expect they’ll meet a violent end after only a few years. If I let my dog roam and meet the dangers cats face, I’d be seen as a terrible pet person. But for many cat people, it’s just the way things are.

    Do you want to hear some good news? Our local shelter has a barn cats program. They spay or neuter cats that just can’t live indoors. And they find homes with people who have acreage and will provide for the cat.

    The cats won’t contribute to increasing the population, they don’t end up killed in a shelter just for being stray, and they provide a needed service for farmers being overrun by vermin.

    I like the program because it addresses real life instead of having an unattainable idea. It’s similar to the work done by people who trap feral cats to spay or neuter them before returning them to their haunts.

    I think you’ll need to collect some success stories or you’ll go crazy. 😉

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  9. Sorry the free ads got you overwhelmed. It is so saddening, and so true, to know that cats are tossed aside much more often and with less thought than a bad of trash. I’m still sickened over that dog Mary. Not just her, but to know there are 200 other pitties languishing in the shelter right nearby. And God only knows how many cats the shelter houses… 😦

    I think it’s time to go watch a funny movie. Or eat some chocolate. Doesn’t solve anything, but it’s good for the soul.

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  10. Having two horses and a barn property, I can say the cat population here is BAD too. Every Spring, we get several litters of kittens dumped on our farm and then we have to spay/neuter them all. IT’S PRICEY, but very effective. I’ve never seen a mouse at our barn and we have a *ridiculously large* cat population to keep the barn lively and fun.

    This is actually one of the issues that Petfinder founder, Betsy Sauls urged us to become a “first follower” for at BlogPaws.

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  11. Darn it. I was looking for uplifting animal stories this morning. It’s interesting to learn that cats are so badly regarded where you are. It seems to be the opposite here. They can do things that dogs aren’t allowed to and their owners don’t seem to have any legal responsibilities about scooping poop, keeping them indoors, belling them, attacks on wildlife, etc which is kind of annoying.

    Spaying and neutering for pet animals should really be made compulsory for anyone without a good reason for keeping their pet intact. We don’t need accidents and backyard breeding to add to the population problem. Sigh sigh SIGH.

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  12. I say equal rights to dogs and kitties! 🙂

    I recently had to take my 20-year old cat who had been living with my Grandparent’s most of his life in my home. I switched Gretel and Chester to grain free earlier this year. As soon as kitty move in I bought him some too 🙂

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  13. I always treated my pets equally, but their attitudes toward me were both different. Example – My Dad’s business is in the basement of the house and BOTH Jersey and my parents cats were able to come and go outside as they pleased in the summer. The difference? Every half an hour or so, Jersey would come back in and check up on me, try to play, get some pets or whatever. The cats? They would only come back to eat and once they had tanked up, it was off to roam again.

    Dogs have a genuine interest in bonding with us, while cats tend to look at us as food dispensing machines when they aren’t successful at hunting. While I know that not ALL cats are like mine, and I’ve never had a strictly indoor cats, I feel that cats seem to “tolerate” us as roommates while dogs want to be with us.

    Seeing all those cats for “free” really distresses me. Our local shelters are overflowing with cats they don’t know what to do with.

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  14. I’m sure you know that my kitties share the same luxuries that Cali does. Two baskets of toys and the best food and treats – they are part of our family. I’ve volunteered at our local cat shelter and I wish that I could take them ALL home. Our neighbors are taking care of their daughters kitty (she rescued it) and I have seen him all over the neighborhood – I worry about him 😦

    Have you ever visited http://www.theittybittykittycommittee.com/? She has raised over $ 87,000 for her local shelter in the last month. She and her kittens are amazing. We can all help in some way, we just need to take baby steps 🙂

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  15. I know, it is devastating. The thing I wonder about is, where are all these unwanted cats coming from? Do that many people really have unaltered males and females that they keep together? Or I guess they’re mostly free-ranging cats that just keep breeding and breeding?

    Goddess how I wish I could foster about 12 of them. It’s the only regret I have about still having Fozzie–he makes cat fostering impossible.

    If it makes you feel any better, the Washington DC Humane Society adopted out 60 animals this week–44 of whom were cats! Keep ranting–every bit of awareness you raise does make a difference.

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  16. I hate to even write this but I think part of the problem is there aren’t any laws about cats. Where I live they encourage you to spay or neuter your dog. We then have to license them in our towns on a yearly basis. De-sexed dogs are less expensive to license then intact dogs. But there is no laws for cats. So why would someone spend money ‘fixing’ their cats when all they have to do is put a free ad on craig’s list and if that fails dump their kittens off in an empty lot. In typical fashion, the responsible people are not the ones doing this. Yet the irresponsible ones continue to make problems for the rest of us.

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  17. That is discouraging. I know in our county cats are also not considered anything other than vermin. I have always loved cats – but am terribly allergic. You are right – cats are treated as second class citizens compared to dogs. People will leave their cats alone in the house for days at a time and don’t stop to think about what will happen to that cat psychologically when left alone for that long, or if the cat accidentally knocks over the water bowls or eats all the food the first day and then has nothing. I could go on and on. I know too many people that claim to “love” cats but don’t treat them very well.

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  18. Wow – I had no idea that there was such a disparity in the way we think about dogs and cats. To me, they’re equal – except that I’m allergic to cats so having one myself would be problematic. But, they’re both much loved family pets. The evidence you’ve found is absolutely mind boggling to me. Clearly, someone needs to do some PR for the felines!

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  19. Just heard about 3 kitties that were “hanging around” a house when a new family moved in. All of them made repeated attempts (and eventually a couple did get in) to get in the house while things were being moved in. In asking neighbors, it was discovered that the three cats belonged to the previous owners, were all strictly indoor cats, and apparently were just left when they moved away. A local group stepped in, one neighbor took one kitty, the other two went to their small, no kill shelter, and the others adopted out from there.
    These kitties were the lucky ones. I can only imagine the countless others.

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