Opinion Column

Cats shouldn't be the persona non grata of the pet world

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Dear dog people:

It’s high time you stopped abetting the idea that cats are somehow the persona non grata of the pet world.

I get it. We’re on opposite ends of the cat-versus-dog debate. I can respect people like dogs more, but I’m very much a cat person. I don’t know how one can like incessant barking more than the soft meows or purring of a kitten, or the smell of dog drool more than what I like to call “sunny kitty” – how my sweet baby Sungmin and Rebel smell after they’ve slept in a sunbeam all afternoon.

To you, dog person, that probably sounds ridiculous. That’s fair, because I find it equally ridiculous that you think the opposite. There’s just one difference – I can like cats more and respect that others don’t. I’d never wish death on someone’s pet, their family member, and I certainly wouldn’t go around running dogs over.

You, however, seem to think that for some reason, because it’s a cat, it’s somehow okay. They’re somehow less of a pet, less of a family member to someone because they’re not a dog. They’re a nuisance, a pest, and you’ll take it upon yourself to do a bit of extermination by not stopping or slowing down when you see a cat run across the street and run it over.

The worst part is that you don’t even have any remorse.

“Who cares - it’s just a cat.”

“There’s too many of them, anyways.”

I wish I could say those weren’t phrases I’ve heard uttered after a cat has been run over. I wish I could name you (aside from just disgusting), but there’s too many of you dog people in particular that I’ve personally interacted with that are the same way. Cats are like spiders and flies to you – disposable. It’s like a game to see how many you can kill. It’s funny when one gets run over. It’s funny when one’s beat up and stuffed into a backpack and thrown into a trash can to die.

People don’t like to talk about it. I’m sure it makes them uncomfortable, and it’s easier to turn a blind eye than address the issue. That however, is exactly why we need to acknowledge that, as a society, there’s a lack of concern and regard for the welfare of felines as opposed to dogs. There is a cat crisis that needs to be dealt with, and it starts by dog people and non-cat people showing a bit more compassion for animals even if they’re not ones they’d welcome into their home.

At the end of September, the Central Alberta Human Society said they had more than 150 cats in shelter, and 390 on a wait list to come into a shelter, while the dog wait list was less than five. It would be easy to point the finger solely at the economy, moving to locations without pet-friendly options, spay/neuter fees etc. but there’s more to it.

The average litter of puppies is around five to six, while most cat litters are between the three to five range. Logic says there should be less of a gap between the wait list for cats and dogs – there’s not much difference between spay/neuter rates between the two animals, pet-friendly accommodations don’t discriminate between cats and dogs, so that leaves the perception that one is disposable and the other is not.

It’s heartbreaking to have a cat take up residence outside of my house, searching for a warm place to stay and someone to feed them because they’ve been abandoned and not be able to do more than create an outdoor shelter for it.

Whisker Rescue, Alleycats, the S.P.C.A. and other places, have room for this poor cat – Toasty – as my family’s named it, and when temperatures grow colder, I’m terrified Toasty’s not going to be so toasty and face the same fate as those cats people run over.

A dog won’t have long to get into a shelter and likely be adopted fairly quickly, but this poor cat, among hundreds of others, won’t have the same opportunity. That isn’t right.

I know not all dog people are this way, but its frustrating and disheartening how many I come across that are.

It’s disheartening to come across “cat people” who don’t see a problem with not spaying/neutering their pets.

They might just be cats, but they could be so much more if we quit treating them like they’re disposable.


Comments, questions or concerns? Email our reporter at abarrett@postmedia.com 

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