We are killing wild animals by our crass behaviour and because of our ignorance of how to act around them.
Too many people are ignorant of how to act around wild animals.
We are killing and stressing wild animals by our crass behaviour and ignorance of how to act around them. We cannot resist our fascination with getting close to wild animals regardless of the consequences to the animals concerned.
On beaches near where I live there are colonies of seals and recently in the space of three days one seal pup which wasn’t weaned and too young to have a waterproof coat, was chased into the water by two young children where it drowned while the children’s mother watched proudly on.
Another was abandoned by its mother when it was surrounded by a crowd of noisy onlookers taking selfies. A third was attacked and killed by an unleashed dog whose owner either didn’t care or was unable to control the dog properly off a lead.
Criminal offence to cause the death of a wild animal.
Few if any people are aware or care that it is a criminal offence in the UK to cause the death of a protected species, not that many will even know what a protected species is.
Sadly, it is not just wild animals. I once watched two young children chasing ewes around a farmers field while their parents encouraged them finding it amusing. I had to intervene pointing out that if their children were dogs they could have been shot. Children have a natural impulse to either chase after or throw something at any animals they come across whether it is seagulls on the beach or ducks and pigeons in the park and unless guided by their parents that this unacceptable behaviour and explain why, their children will never see the harm in it. But the problem is that many parents have little understanding themselves.
Dog owners to blame also.
Dog owners are just as much to blame as well and many are happy to see their beloved dogs having fun chasing after any animal that moves and destroying habitat. I was once engrossed looking into pond in a nature reserve full of pondlife when two Labradors plunged in and turned it into a mud bath. The owner was not concerned in the least. Chasing animals or disturbing them appears to be a recreational sport to some and yet they would probably object to hare coursing or sheep worrying.
This human intervention as it is often called, or ignorant and crass behaviour, is a worldwide problem. The smiles on the faces of the holidaymakers on the beach and these on a Costa Rican turtle egg laying beach are more proof of this behaviour. Some of the adults and their children were witnessed posing and riding on their backs.
The problems arise when the animals cannot escape or are forced to abandon their dependents. No wonder most wildlife runs for the hills when they see humans approaching. Meanwhile back at the seal colony in Norfolk they are building a 1.2 km. fence at considerable cost to protect the seals from us and our pets.
The interests of the cats can be lost sight of particularly when things go wrong.
A UK cat café in Manchester, where customers pay £12 ($15) to spend an hour in the company of cats with a cup of coffee provided, is closing after nearly five years due to the economic situation. Their self proclaimed “cat family” of a dozen or so cats are to be found new homes. They also have another branch in Liverpool which is also closed, which probably ends their initial aim of opening one in every major city in the UK.
Since the first cat café opened in Taiwan in 1998 there has been an explosion of these feline themed eateries worldwide with dozens opening across the UK annually with little or no inspection. Many of these have the same vision of establishing chains of stores across the country. They have become a popular craze and sadly there are even help sites with tips on how to start a cat café. These promote the benefits of partnering a business with local cat rescues to “populate” the café with the required 10-15 cats to make it successful and many cat rescues questionable appear happy to oblige. Anyone can operate one without experience which can lead to hygiene and welfare issues.
Good therapy for humans or just good business.
Most cat cafes promote themselves either as providing “a stress free haven where cats and humans can unwind” or as pseudo cat rescue centres or both. This causes a conundrum for many people as to whether they are cruel and stressful for the cats and unhygienic or a benefit to human mental health and a cat’s Shangri-La of human company. The veterinary profession appears non-committal on the issue as long as cats are well cared for, while some animal welfare charities like the Cats Protection are positively against them and will not accept donations from them. The law has no problem with dogs and cats in cafes as long as they are not allowed near food preparation and food standards inspectors can take years to inspect and give them hygiene star ratings which can be a problem.
“If the intention is to home cats from the café, this would create a ‘rolling’ population of rescue cats – in a café, this would create even more stress and further compromise feline welfare because rescue cats need as stable an environment as possible & will become stressed as a result of being in a confined space with a continually changing group of people”.
Cats Protection, UK national cat charity.
In the case of the Manchester café, the owners are happy to claim on their website that “the café is their home” and that they are their “cat family” and yet the redundant cats are all to be found new homes. They were originally sourced from breeders and some from cat rescues to provide “forever homes” to those that could not find the home they deserved which are now hollow sounding sentiments, which is often the case with the use of the term “forever”.
Plans to open a new cafe
Worryingly the owners of the Manchester café are quoted as saying they hope to open another café with new cats when the pandemic and economic outlook is better. There seems to be no interest in caring for the cats themselves or mention of any contingency plan or fund in place to look after them. The cats appear to be viewed as stock or accessories for the business rather than theirpampered cat family.
“We hope to relaunch in a new premises once the pandemic is over, so please continue to bear with us through this very difficult time. We will be spending the next few weeks finding loving, permanent homes for our 10 resident cats”.
Manchester Cat Cafe
There has been outrage in the past about animal cafes particularly those in Japan and Asia where cats and exotic animals of all kinds such as otters, hedgehogs and monkeys are used to attract customers, but hypocritically we are happy to patronise similar establishments in the UK. It is the same type of exploitation of animals regardless of the type of animal and all the animal welfare and psychological hyperbole behind these ventures.
Cat cafes are becoming big business but as with all ventures involving the participation of animal attractions, the interests of the animals can be lost sight of particularly when things go wrong. Those in existence already involve the lives of hundreds of cats and the number at risk only increases whenever another opens. In these uncertain times the Manchester closure highlights the uncertain future of cats in this type of establishment.
A typical promotional video; You decide: exploitation or just good fun for all: