A case for equal rights for cats.

Tabby cat, face

Cats are just about on a par with dogs in the popularity stakes as a companion pet with dogs just edging it so in theory we should be treating their interests and rights equally. But unfortunately it appears that cats do not have the same PR status as dogs with cats tending to be ignored in favour of dogs and in many instances virtually discriminated against.

Cats cannot do anything right.

As a society we do not take their welfare and interests as seriously as dogs. There is a definite bias in the law with most regulating and protecting dogs while cats are mostly disregarded and left legally owner-less. Recently the UK introduced a new law controlling puppy farming but not kitten farming, although it did bring in new rules protecting the sale of kittens. There is no mandatory microchipping as there is with dogs and you must report a dog injured in a road traffic collision but not a cat. We have had a cat crisis in the UK for years with thousands of stray and feral cats roaming the country, but no government initiative to solve the problem unlike dogs where we introduced dog wardens.

Dog and cat
Cats and dogs give us equal affection and loyalty so why do we treat them differently.

There is only one national cat animal charity in the UK compared with several that concentrate on dogs and it only receives half the donations of just one of those helping dogs. “I hate cats” is a more often heard phrase than I hate dogs“. The internet is awash with implements and gizmos including electronic and ultrasonic scarers, motion water sprinklers and prickle strips to drench, electrocute and generally maim them and even pellets impregnated with the essence of lion dung is sold to ward them off.

We basically allow dogs to poo where they want and we mostly turn a blind eye to all the abandoned plastic bags whereas cats are still vilified for messing in a flower bed even though they have the decency to cover up their toiletry antics unlike dogs. We allow dogs to roam open spaces, chase wildlife and livestock and often cause a nuisance but cats are maligned for roaming free and following their predatory instincts of stalking birds and small animals. We commit more cruelty on cats for these reasons and in some parts of the world attempt to ban their keeping or legally confine indoors.

Television documentaries nearly all focus on dogs with cats rarely getting a look in, so we have the Dog Rescuers and For the Love of Dogs with Paul O’Grady to name just two. Then we have the annual coverage of Crufts Dog Show but to my knowledge never a cat show. Battersea Dogs Home is also a cats home, but this part of the title is rarely referred to. There are so many examples of how we denigrate cats in preference to dogs.

Cats win over dogs on social media.

The one place that cats win over dogs appears to be internet social media sites and unfortunately for the wrong reasons. People love to make videos of cats being silly or cute or being forced to do unnatural acts so that we can have a good laugh at them. Most of them are not funny at all and cats could do without them. There are dozens of ‘famous cats’ getting millions of hits like Grumpy cat or keyboard cat videos of a ginger cat in a dress playing a toy piano or a cat in a shark costume on a roomba chasing a duckling. There is sadly no end to them.

In the real world there is no way of ignoring the fact that cats rank second to dogs in our modern society and are far more maligned than the dog. This has come about as many people do not like the fact that they are so independent of us and difficult to dominate. They have a take it or leave it attitude towards us. We view them as less of a companion pet as we cannot share as many of our interests with them such as hiking, a car drive or a trip down the shops and because of this we do not care as much about them. It is also why we are less concerned about so many millions being culled and killed around the world each year when a single healthy dog being euthanised causes such outrage.

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Author: John Brookland

John Brookland has been passionate about animals from an early age and has always been more concerned about their individual health and well-being than any scientific or zoological interest. During his long and varied career in animal welfare in the U.K. and worldwide, he has unfortunately witnessed most of the horrors of animal cruelty there is to see and has gained extensive insight into animal welfare issues. On leaving school he trained as an RSPCA clinic assistant in London and later was manager of one of their veterinary hospitals and an animal centre. He was Chief Inspector and manager of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau and spent time in Trinidad advising on a humane stray dog control service, before becoming a deputy manager and animal health inspector at Heathrow's Animal Quarantine Centre. He then travelled the world for a conservation group investigating the capture and transport of wildlife for the pet trade and was an honorary consultant to the IUCN and CITES. He is now retired and still travelling the world with his partner to view wildlife and wild places and writing a blog and books on animals.