An Unpopular View of Pets — and Pet “Lovers”

I’m conducting an argument on Facebook with a “lover” of cats, following the announcement of her soon-to-be-acquired hairless Sphynx cat. Argument follows:

SF: This is the Sphynx kitten I will be getting in a few weeks. [ Photo attached, not the one shown here ] Right now he will be two weeks on the 28th. If you have any idea’s for names let me know. Right now Mr. Wrinkles is what we have so far lol

Hank Fox: If this is one of those hairless cats … argh. I would never, ever own one, or support the breeding of them.

If you really LIKE cats, you have to have SOME feeling for their right to bodily integrity, to their health and comfort, apart from the freakish and cruel tricks breeders play on them.

Doing this to cats is a moral crime.

AA: I’m sure the SF has done his or her research on keeping a breed like this happy and healthy. Sphynx cats generally are a quite healthy and long-lived breed. I agree breeding certain types of cats or dogs is immoral (Scottish Fold cats can be unhealthy and many breeds of dogs are purposely bred to not be able to breathe properly, or the breeders don’t do the responsible thing by doing genetic health tests to clear certain breeds of inherited genetic illnesses. I’d be more worried about those types of breeds than simply a hairless breed.)

Plus, no hairballs.

SF: Hank Fox, I have never heard such crap. I have researched the breeder and they are wonderful with their cats. I have also spoke with several people that also have a Sphynx and they said they are a great breed very affectionate.

HF: Apparently none of you have any idea what I’m talking about, and I guess I’m not going to get it through to you in one conversation. But breeders who deliberately create genetic monsters for the amusement of fools and simpletons are not “wonderful” with their cats. They barely know cats exist; instead they have these amusing little toys that also happen to be hapless living creatures subject to human whims.

If the utterly defenseless cats could choose, you can be damned sure they’d choose to have good healthy fur. But screw them, right? They’re just stupid cats. Fortunately we “love” them enough to make these choices on their behalf.

AA: Defenseless, how, exactly? I’m presuming this will be an indoor house cat?

HF:  Defenseless how? Pets are absolutely unable to defend themselves against US. Against what breeders do to them. Against what people think is funny, or cute, or convenient, no matter what it does to the animal itself.

If you love animals at all, you have to recognize that they have SOME rights, SOME life apart from us. Otherwise they’re just furniture, or toys. Witness how many millions of them we casually throw away each year, because they’re no longer convenient, or fail to match the new furniture, or can’t fight anymore.

I think there are limits on how much genetic and surgical meddling we should allow ourselves to do to them, and still call ourselves animal lovers. Depriving a cat of its claws is horrible, in my opinion. Depriving it of its fur … something so basic it goes without saying in the definition of catness …that’s even worse.

AA: I don’t agree with declawing.

HF: AA, with a little bit of thought, you might also be against de-furring. Fur isn’t some jettisonable convenience for cats. It’s how they regulate their temperature, protect their skin against infection and injury, interface comfortably with various surfaces, guard themselves from injury by other cats, allow themselves to be readily RECOGNIZED as cats by other cats, so much more.

I adopted a feral cat a few years ago. She lived outside for at least two years, in the snow in winter, and she did it because she had a comfortable thick coat of fur. She belonged to somebody once — we suspect she was some elderly lady’s best friend and the lady died, after which she was left outside by uncaring neighbors or relatives and went looking for food. She ended up in our yard, which was well supplied with rodents from our bird feeders, and eventually we started feeding her too. And then, once she got used to us, invited her in.

She survived out there because she was still a cat. Still able to survive without humans. Still had her fur and her claws. A declawed cat would have been less able to catch rodents, a defurred cat would have died in frozen agony that first winter.

HF:  SF, I don’t necessarily want to hurt your feelings here. But … there are some things you may not have thought about. Not because you’re a bad person, but because NOBODY thinks about these things. Nobody talks about them. People filling the world up with pug dogs who can’t breathe and German shepherds with crippling congenital hip defects are absolutely convinced they love animals, and have no idea what ongoing agony they’re continuing to propagate.

But the thing is, animals have feelings. They have their own lives, their own existence, somewhat apart from us. And they suffer from the things we casually do to them. They may not even know they suffer. But WE should.

AA: Sphynx cats are meant to be indoor house pets. While I agree with most of what you say, I would say purposely breeding a dog that can’t breathe is worse than a hairless cat, provided the cat is kept indoors and is well cared-for.

SF: Hank Fox, I think you’re nuts. These cats are not genetic monsters. They happen to be very beautiful cats. Just because you do not like a breed does not mean you should be so nasty about it. The problem isn’t with the breeders. I have researched and talked with several if anything these cats are spoiled rotten. They are given baths weekly and have their paws wiped every time they use the bathroom.

HF: AA, And you have no consideration to what the cat might choose, if it could? No thought that a hairless cat, even kept indoors and “well-cared-for” might suffer discomforts that we humans are not well-equipped to recognize, or notice? And that IF there’s a chance that might be the case, it’s better to err on the side of leaving a cat with all its innate traits?

HF: SF, you’re still not getting ANY of what I’m saying. I can’t really blame you, I guess. It’s a tough thing to think about.

SF: Hank Fox, you could say the same thing about a dog or bird or another animal.

HF: SF, I DO. Often. And I usually get the same blank response. Like I say, nobody thinks or talks about this. Most “animal lovers” have no idea they don’t really understand the private lives and needs of their pets. They’re totally comfortable with dogs that can’t breathe, can’t run, can’t even breed on their own. The more hideously deformed a dog is — tiny delicate bodies, bugged-out eyes, mashed-in faces, long fur that would be constantly fouled with shit — the “cuter” it is.

AA: Define innate traits… we have to generally teach dogs bite inhibition from a young age. Shall we stop that as well?

We created/domesticated pets like cats and dogs and it only makes sense that we’d tailer some breeds to our vanity and needs, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years. I am a studwnt in the animal health sciences field and plan to get into shelter medicine, so I am all for protecting animals and encouraging breeding for health and temperament, but I have to consider if the animal is suffering in order to make an ethical decision about it.

HF: Oh, shit, AA. WTF: Bite inhibition?? If you’re determined to misunderstand, I can’t stop you.

If you’re going into shelter medicine, I do wish you’d think about this more than this superficial argument has shown. If you’re so casually comfortable with “tailoring” breeds for human vanity, you will never understand what sort of misery you’ll help continue.

In view of the rest of your convictions, I don’t really understand why you think declawing cats is any sort of problem. After all, they’re “happy,” right? As long as they’re kept indoors, and “well cared for,” what’s the diff?

AA: While bulldogs tend to have goofy, delightful temperaments, I do have more of a problem with the purposeful breeding of brachycephalic dogs. While I fully support responsible breeding (breeding for health, temperament as opposed to simply appearance) I find disregarding health in favour of an exaggerated breed standard (extreme wrinkles, extreme brachycephalic features, etc) is an ethical issue that should be addressed.

A reputable breeder of English Bulldogs should only be breeding dogs that, at the very least, have genetic health clearances for the following: [ link ]

HF: Amy, yes. You will. You’re almost with me on this. Collect up your convictions about declawing, and dogs that can’t breathe normally, and GENERALIZE those understandings into this larger view. There are some things you haven’t yet thought about, things that haven’t gotten real to you. I hope you’ll think about them.

There’s a bit of profound cognitive dissonance in realizing that some large fraction of animal lovers are nothing of the sort. Some of them, despite their ardent protestations of love, can’t see their pets as having any real existence.

AY: I have German shepherds. I’m not much of an animal lover, but they’ve grown on me. Mine had a few growing pain problems but are fine now. Humans also have generic problems specific to their particular race, should they quit having kids?

HF: Humans have a choice. That is VASTLY different from pets being bred by humans for purposes of amusement, or style.

I had a German shepherd too. Loved him more than anything, literally. The only time I might have killed someone was when a former roommate came close to threatening to hurt him. (I knew what he was about to say. He saw the look on my face and backed off in a hurry.)

Hated watching him, later in his life, struggling to run, or to do other things, with his slanted, loose hips. Hated having to force him to accept the eye drops that allowed him to not go blind. Hated having to watch him grapple with his miserable too-delicate appetite.

Argument ends. I probably came on too strong, but … this stuff really bothers me.

As Granny Aching said in Terry Pratchett’s “Wee Free Men”:

“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

 

Followup: SF’s final comment, in reply to a question, is that she’s paying $1,400 for her hairless kitten.

I don’t buy into the too-common argument that anyone buying a pedigreed dog or cat is some kind of traitor to pet-love because of all the pets going wanting in shelters. It’s a huge and absolute tragedy, the number of unwanted pets in shelters, but the monied-person in question didn’t put those cats and dogs there, and people have a right to spend their money on whatever they want. If you think about it, anytime a friend told you he was buying a new car, or a house, or just new shoes, you could lay into him about how much he hated all the poor shelter dogs.

However … $1,400? Dayyum. Why not get a normal, healthy one?

 

 

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  • Jo Jerome

    Spot on Hank. Add to that, every pet bought from a breeder is another pet that dies in a shelter.

    As to the argument that humans have genetic problems too… If I had a genetic deformity like bowed legs, I would not eagerly seek out my 1st cousin to have as many children as humanly possible with because the bowed legs are “cute.”

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    There’s just something undignified about having no fur.

    • c2t2

      I think it looks fine on humans and dolphins ;P (but I concede the point on naked mole rats)

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Dolphins and whales have practical reasons for not having fur.

        Humans… iffy.

        • http://www.chemtrailareforchildren.gov/ daddybigcat

          in your case to cover the yeast smell kitten- pretty simple really *snorts* hey why dont you let that poor cat go? it needs air PU! hey this poor ugly animal below- if anyone has seen this abused creature please call the aspca asap!

    • Hilary

      I agree, and cats need their dignity and integrity to be cats. Furless isn’t the worst human breed trait out there, but I hate the cats and even more the dogs breed to the point where they can’t breathe or run or reproduce properly. This is the first time I’ve ever heard some one else say that such grotesque breeding is immoral, I thought it was just me.
      My three cats are all generic domestic shorthairs, beautiful and wonderful.

      • Hank Fox

        Hilary, I’m actually surprised that anybody’s agreeing with me. I’ve been saying this stuff for years, and I always get blank looks. I’ve never been able to even explain it to people so they’d get it.

        Thank you very, very much for understanding it too.

        A few years back, I worked in a magazine office, and a lady came in with a box of puppies, pugs or something like that. She thrust one at me, saying “You want to hold one?” And I actually recoiled and said “No!” Everyone in the office looked at me like I was crazy, and I never even tried to explain.

        Of course the puppies weren’t to blame, but I could see the horrible unconscious intent behind the fact that they existed, and it just disgusted me too much, in that instant, to even want to be near them.

        • MNb

          Oh, I agree with you too. I have owned dogs and cats most of my life; no single of them was a pedigree.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        My baby is a long-haired shelter-cat. We think she’s part Maine Coon, but we’re not sure what that would be mixed with to produce her fine bone structure.

        • http://www.chemtrailareforchildren.gov/ daddybigcat

          that’s one hideous cat- did you ever notice how cat people are needy little whiners? They are even creepier and more disgusting than the poor animals they hold against their will.

        • Hilary

          She is absolutely beautiful!!! I promise pictures of my boys if I ever figure out how. Cody is just you basic black dsh, almost pure black including whiskers and nose. He was standing on my lap last night, and when I petted his back I could feel the static electricity through his paws into my legs, that’s how cold and dry it is here. He’s also incredibly helpful when I’m sorting out all my white socks, curling up right in the middle of the pile.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Oh, Cody sounds adorable! (I love black cats — they’re so underappreciated!)

          • Hilary

            He is adorable, and a great nurse kitty. When Penny’s ankles are bothering her, he’ll drape himself over them and just purr for a while. We call him Cody because he broke the code on my heart – not that hard, really, he just purred at me every time I touched him, and wouldn’t get off my lap when I was at the computer.
            It came
            It purred
            It conquered.

          • Gehennah

            There’s actually some evidence to suggest that the vibrations from purring can accelerate the healing process.

            I’m not too sure if the tests are still in process or not, but I remember reading about a test with goats with broken bones, they would put a cast on the leg with something attached to it to mimic purring for x length of time, y many times a day and it showed that the goats healed faster. I’ll try to find the article sometime.

            But if true, your cat could be actually assisting Penny.

  • Dirk

    The Shih Tzu is one of the oldest dog breeds and is awesome.

  • Martin Wagner

    “I probably came on too strong”

    No, you came on blustery and pretentious, as if angry emotional appeals are a substitute for reasoned argument. Referring to these cats as “genetic monsters” right out of the gate somehow fails to convince me you’re any kind of a compassionate advocate for them. Unless you can point to some kind of health issue that a hairless breed might be genetically predisposed towards, you haven’t got an argument here. You’d have done much better to point out that Sphinx cats have a higher instance of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, for instance. But their lack of fur is barely a problem at all (Sphinx cats have an excess of skin oil, and that’s about it), and with proper care — which would involve ALWAYS keeping your cat indoors, whatever the breed — they are an outgoing, playful breed who live a normal feline life expectancy. Railing against breeders who tailor animals to human vanity (a charge that’s not invalid in many cases) is a bit of a red herring here, especially as the Sphinx breed itself originated as the result of a natural mutation.

    • Hank Fox

      Martin, I referred to them as “genetic monsters” not to make them seem like Japanese horror movie creatures, but in a sort of quasi-technical sense. I think I recall Darwin himself used the term “monster” in speaking of small inbred dogs.

      As to anger and emotion in this: If you came across someone tormenting a defenseless animal, or even torturing it, would “reasoned argument” be the appropriate response? Because this happens in slow motion, and is too subtle for some people to notice, doesn’t meant it isn’t taking place, nor that deliberately-procreated animals with genetic defects, however they arise, aren’t suffering constant low-level misery that healthier animals don’t experience.

      Take one instance of that low-level misery and multiply it by thousands or tens of thousands, and I would hope someone with a crumb or two of decency would start to notice. As I already know — as with you, for instance — they don’t. So I try to point it out.

      “Unless you can point to some kind of health issue that a hairless breed might be genetically predisposed towards …” The obvious fail-safe position on stuff like this, if you’re looking at it from even a minimally-compassionate point of view, would be to assume that genetically tweaked animals DO suffer noticeable negative consequences, and then look to see what they might be, and how severe, rather than to blithely assume “Oh, they’re fine. It’s nothing. Nobody can prove they’re suffering.” and progress onward to whatever horrible end goal your breeding plan included.

      More than once I’ve been assured by veterinarians that EVERY pure breed — dogs, cats, cattle, horses — has genetic flaws that cause them, and their owners, misery. I’ve seen some of them myself, and I can’t imagine deliberately creating a dog (for instance) that will suffer, for its entire lifetime, a breathing problem, or a problem walking and running, or ongoing skin irritation and infection. Such things seem uglier to me than the mass murder of people … because at least we recognize that the killing of people is hugely wrong.

      My goal in all this is to minimize such consequences by encouraging people to recognize them and contribute to them as little as possible.

      As to the phrase “proper care” — you use it so casually that it seems it’s no matter at all for “proper care” to be taken with all such animals. Having known a LOT of animal owners, city and country both, I can’t so casually entertain such a conviction.

      And however it seems to you, I do think of myself as “some kind of compassionate advocate” for animals.

      • Martin Wagner

        Cute little digs there at my total lack of even a crumb of decency, for not recognizing the utter and unassailable moral correctness of your position. Being right all the time is a lovely thing, isn’t it — at least as lovely as self-flattery? And so much less work than sensibly supporting this notion that breeding a cat with no fur is exactly equivalent to torturing him.

        All domestic animals have been, to one degree or another, bred by humans to satisfy our needs or even our “vanity.” It has in fact been the case that this has sometimes led to tragic problems in overbreeding, with dire consequences for the physical health of the animal. One way to combat this is to discourage and, when possible, ban the breeding practices that lead to these defects.

        But it’s a mistake to assume that all breeding practices are some kind of “moral crime” when you don’t appear to have studied them well (assumptions, apparently, are entirely sufficient), or that everyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with you on how to address the issue is some morally degenerate reprobate, even those who’ve devoted their lives and careers to working with and caring for animals. If you want to advocate for better treatment of all domestic breeds, I’m completely behind you. Or I would be, if your habit of assuming everyone who doesn’t think about this stuff exactly the way you do is simply stupid didn’t get in the way. I mean, just think — NO ONE BUT YOU has awoken to the realization that animals feel pain, or suffer, or have needs that should be respected! What a burden it is you carry, being the sole voice of compassion to speak on behalf all the pets to a cold and indifferent world!

  • c2t2

    *applause*

    I agree! Mostly.

    I go even further, and disapprove of anyone knowingly buying from breeders when there are so, so many dogs/cats/horses/other domesticated critters in shelters about to be put down. I hold my tongue IRL, but I find it unconscionable to make more of a thing that’s capable of suffering when there are many unwanted individuals of the same. Yes, that includes humans. (Needless to say, everyone hates me.) (I stand by my beliefs anyway.)

    Edit to add: the only defensible reason for the hairless cats/dogs are at the intersection of “I cannot be happy without a critter to love” and “I have crippling allergies”. In that way, hairless is actually far more defensible than brachycephaly, easily-infected wrinkles or other “cute” (hazardous) breed traits.

    • Gehennah

      If you do want a critter and do have allergies, talk to a Bengal breeder (or Savanna breeder but those are super expensive). They tend to be hypoallergenic, or at least as much as you can expect to have from a pet with fur.

      My wife used to have really bad allergies (they went away on their own for some reason), but the Bengals never bothered her at all. The others did, but she still loved them all.

  • No_more_Dee_nial

    The reason the Sphynx cats are given baths weekly is because they don’t have fur to disperse the skin oils so they NEED them. They also need coats even indoors except in the warmest weather.
    I’m with you, Hank. Not all genetic variations are so interesting they need to be replicated. I do love some of the brachycephalic dogs, but would never buy from a breeder. In fact, I have five cats – all generic American Shorthairs, all from local rescue groups. Any dog I get will be from a rescue as well.

  • Karen

    Hank, this making me think hard has got to stop. :)

    After ruminating on this post overnight, I decided I agree with you. When we breed for unhealthy characteristics (whether intended or side-effects), we sentence many of the animals that result to short, difficult lifetimes. I’ve lived with overbred animals. My first dog that I remember was from a litter of show cocker spaniels; she was not good enough to show, for whatever reason, but in return for her we had to raise a litter of her puppies. (To a 6- or 7-year old kid, of course, this was heaven.) But she didn’t live all that long as dog lives go, she was burdened with a coat that tangled daily and could attract burrs over distances, and she was probably the dumbest dog I have ever met. Hammers have more sense.

    Not having learned my lesson from the dog, in ’91 my husband and I decided to replace our late alley cat with a pair of Burmese littermates. We wanted small, short-haired cats, and chose a breeder who only had two mother cats and bred each of them once a year with different sires. Boris and Natasha were delightful cats, and for the first few years all was well. Then Boris escaped and met the neighbor’s husky, who decided he was a plaything. Natasha lived to 19, but had all sorts of health problems and our vet bills were astronomical. And I heard, oh so many times from the vet, “yes, that tends to be a problem with Burmese cats”.

    For better or worse, I will only adopt rescue pets from now on. They’re not a panacea; we just lost Rocky-cat to heart disease at age 11, but he had a very difficult kittenhood (my dad found him starving to death) and that may have played a part in his early demise. A friend is fostering/socializing a rescue kitten who might make a good new addition to my household. If not her, then another from a shelter — a Heinz 57 critter who will hopefully live long and prosper, and not suffer “breed defects”.

  • Gehennah

    I do have to disagree on the hairless aspect. As long as a pet owner actually knows the responsibilities of having that breed, I don’t see it as problematic since they do tend to be a healthy breed (as with all breeds, they do have their problems). Although a sphynx isn’t a breed that I personally care for because I find them ugly.

    Personally, I have both purebred cats from a breeder (2 beautiful Bengals), and we have a rescue (a DSH), as well as our previous 3 cats were all rescues. And we love all of our cats. The Bengals we did get because they are exotic looking, low maintenance, and energetic (2nd one was to give the 1st one someone to play with other than our DSH who doesn’t like to run around as much).

    But I do find that the extreme features like the breathing problems, they are irresponsible to breed because they have health problems.

  • rivune

    have you looked into some reptile breeding hank? some people breed albino lizards that need to bask in the sunlight. as well as scaleless snakes. in fact there is a list of ball python “morphs” people still breed knowing they can cause sometimes serious issues such egg binding, duckbilling, kinking of the spine, and then there are the two headed snakes some people keep alive

  • guest

    I think you’re projecting your idea of what a cat should be onto the cat and then pretending that it’s the cat’s choice you’re championing. The truth is, we have no idea what a cat would choose if it could choose, and cats can’t choose what breed to be born as anyway, so it’s a nonsensical arguement.

    Fact is, fur might be useful in the snow, but it has downsides as well (it harbours fleas for instance) and there are other circumstances where it might not bo so useful. Like, in a warm part of the country.

    You seem to be assuming that there’s some kind of ‘ideal cat’ blueprint somewhere which cat breds need to conform to. There isn’t. Cats have a wide variety of possible traits, including hairlessness, which is a naturally occuring mutation. There is no ‘essential’ trait that makes a cat a cat. http://www.edge.org/response-detail/25366

    The cats we know now did not actually evolve to live in snow anyway, they’re modfied african desert cats. All cats have been altered from their wild state through human intervention.

    It was a similar mutation that made humans hairless and it hasn’t done us any harm.

    Most pet animals would not exist without us. They are bred by humans, fed by humans and nursed when they’re sick by humans. Even feral populations can be traced back to human’s pets. The cat wouldn’t be in North America without us, nor would that particular supspecies be in Europe. It doesn’t make sense to speak of a cat or a dog’s life apart from humans. They’re human creations.

    Even wild animals, nowadays, exist in a landscape heavily modified by humans and many of them depend on human conservation to protect them. Feral cats depend on the rats that human rubbish attracts to survive. We’re intertwined. There’s no pristine cat population somewhere, free from the taint of human choices. So, what’s one more modification? It’s only a matter of selecting which cats to breed together, which humans have been doing for hundreds of years.

    It’s not like being hairless hurts the cat and cats don’t have an idea of the ‘ideal’ cat in their heads. They’re not going to miss their fur. Furlessness for them is a natural state, part of their DNA. They will find other ways to communicate with cats around them.

    I don’t think your view is that unpopular, btw. Lots of people dislike sphynx cats and pedigree breeds. See also: http://pedigreedogsexposed.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Hank Fox

      “It’s not like being hairless hurts the cat” is everything wrong with this whole conversation.

      It’s the blithe assumption that you know everything there is to know about what hairless cats feel and experience, with the hidden fail-safe argument “unless we know it’s hurting them, we should just go ahead and do whatever we want with them.”

      My fail-safe is “Unless you know it’s NOT hurting them, unless you know it’s good FOR them, don’t do it TO them.”

      Knowing the little I do about the size of a mammal and mass-vs-surface-area law that demands smaller animals lose heat more rapidly, I’d bet they spend a helluva lot of time being cold. Just because YOU don’t feel it is no reason to say it doesn’t happen. And being cold is just one aspect of this.

      And the people making that other argument, “Oh, they’re fine. Such pets have responsible owners to look out for them,” are almost painfully unaware of the assumptions built into it.

      One more thing: “They’re not going to miss their fur. Furlessness for them is a natural state, part of their DNA …” I have to ask: WTF? Being born deaf is the natural state of a lot of Dalmatians. Being unable to breathe properly is the natural state of a lot of pugs and bulldogs. Being reduced to a 6-year lifespan is the natural state of most Great Danes. It’s built into their DNA. Does that mean it’s perfectly fine?

      My point here — I thought I was clear on this — is that what THEY notice isn’t the main thing to care about. The point is, what do WE notice? You know, those of us who do this to them and supposedly have their welfare in mind, and who theoretically have superior faculties to see what effects our changes have on them, on their innate comfort level.

      None of those pugs struggling to breathe know they’re struggling to breathe. None of those deaf Dalmations know they’re deaf. None of the Great Danes that have half the lifespan of a normal, healthy dog know they’re aging, breaking down, and dying way the hell too early.

      But they’re suffering, all of them, from stuff we do to them. And damn, WE should notice.

  • Denis Robert

    Naturalistic fallacy, anyone? If the cat is healthy and happy, what is it to you? Aren’t you projecting your own prejudice of what a “happy” animal might look like? Who determined that fur was necessary for an indoor cat to be happy? Show evidence that the cat isn’t happy or healthy, and I’ll be on your side. As it stands, you’re assuming without evidence that this is the case. None of us “choose” how we’re born, and who our parents are. That’s true of humans, dolphins, wild cats and house cats. A Sphinx could no more choose to have fur than you could choose to have wings.

    I’m disappointed to see such weak, teleologically driven thinking from a self-styled atheist.

    • Hank Fox

      “If the cat is healthy” Refer to the examples that mention the breathing problems of pugs, the shortened lifespans of Great Danes, etc. The dogs are happy because they don’t know any different. And so are these cats.

      If that’s good enough for you, fine. But it seems the same sort of argument someone might use for circumcision: If babies don’t TELL us it hurts to pee on an open wound for a week or so, it’s not something to think about. Do these cats spend a lot of their time feeling cold? Hey, there’s no way to know; forget about it.

      I don’t get your argument “None of us choose how we’re born.” Are you missing the bit where I talk about how humans deliberately breed these animals? That’s not teleology, it’s the exact opposite — human agency.

      And again, “show evidence they’re unhappy” is pretty much the opposite of how I approach caring about animals. I’d say “Show evidence this is the best we can do for them.”

      I certainly understand that lots and lots of people don’t share my level of compassionate concern about animals. Hell, I grew up with coon hunters who kill things for fun.

      But being an atheist means I understand we humans are the ones who have to care, and act on that caring in real ways.

      This is one of the ways I do it.

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/2010/06/introduction.html uzza

    Well I agree with you. It’s a matter of respect.
    Tangentally, the fact the dog and cat breeders even exist , in a country where four million dogs and cats must be euthanized every year, is an obscenity.

  • Sandy Olson-Hill

    This argument can be broadened to include so many of these” made to order” pets, Originates from a greedy need to own something ‘created” for the owner. moreover, its obscene, reinforcing, supporting “puppy mill” cruelties, overflow, and being a pet rescuer, I see what happens from all sides,owners find out pets they ordered more than they bargained for, expensive, sick all the time, infants that never grow up, basically. because aren’t they cute after all? even if they have can’t walk, are genetically weakened etc. its gross and sad and again an obscene greed. Sad business all around. Seriously, want love, adopt a pet from a shelter,make a difference. do something good.


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