Do Cats Get a Bad Rap?



I have always thought that, in this world, cats get a bad rap. While we know that in ancient Egyptian times, cats were worshipped and often mummified and entombed with their owners (killing a cat was a crime) throughout history, cats have often been viewed in a suspicious light.  In the middle ages, they were persecuted as witches along with the women who were believed to possess evil powers. Women who were reclusive and lived on the edges of towns were blamed for any bad thing that happened, and since cats lived with them, they were also punished and exterminated. Due to bigotry and superstition, the cat species was nearly wiped out. This actually ended up working to the detriment of humans. When the cat population declined, the rodent population (that carried the fleas that carried disease) spread and with it the Plague that killed millions of people in Europe. Yet even today, cats are one of the most vilified and abused animals in many countries thanks to the myth of the witch and her “familiar.” Another strike against cats is that some people believe they are responsible for the decline of certain bird species, although many other factors, such as loss of habitat, affect that problem. 

In this country, black cats especially are considered bad luck. (But in Britain, they are good luck, go figure!) Most Halloween decorations include a black cat or two, and at this time of year many shelters will not allow black cats to be adopted, fearful they will become the victim of someone’s cruel prank. The truth of course is that black cats are no more bad luck than any other cat or animal. They make very fine pets and are just as loving as any other cat.

 Maybe it’s their nocturnal nature that also gives cats a mysterious air. They are born predators and have marvelous stalking abilities, and, once they’ve caught their prey, they like to play with them before they deliver the final blow, but they are excellent at controlling the rodent population. (My cats also like to catch bugs; something I rather appreciate.)  Cat fanciers and breeders are devoted to them, and “cat people” still treat their feline pets as spoiled children, but at the same time there are more homeless cats sitting in shelters than we can begin to imagine. Ironically, while cats once faced extinction due to human stupidity, there is now overpopulation due to the same. Allowing them to wander and breed indiscriminately has caused there to be many more cats than there are good homes for them. It’s a sad fact that cats sitting in shelters face euthanasia every day. It’s also a fact that responsibility for curing the cat problem lies with us. Pet cats must be spayed and neutered, no exceptions, and they should also not be allowed to wander about, in spite of their desire to do so. Contrary to common belief that cats need to go outside, the truth is they can live perfectly happy lives inside, and while they may WANT to go out (hey, I want a new car every year) it’s not required for them to be content. But if you do decide to allow them to wander, at the very least, make sure they cannot contribute to the one hundred cats that are probably sitting in your local shelter, waiting for a home that may never come.

As Halloween approaches, plan how you will keep all your pets safe from escaping that night. I’m thinking of putting these two in my office where they can snuggle in my chair and safely watch the outside world, while the neighborhood is trick or treating, and there will be no danger of them getting lost in an often unfriendly world.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!


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3 Comments on “Do Cats Get a Bad Rap?”

  1. […] Pets, life with pets, homeless pets, rescue animals, responsible pet ownership. « Do Cats Get a Bad Rap? […]

  2. Melissa Keir Says:

    I have both two dogs and a cat. I’m sure that the dogs would love to blame the cat for their misadventures. And the cat seems to act more like a dog sometimes. 🙂 But that’s another tale! My cat did go outside and he was neutered. He was also able to catch the snakes around the house and took care of many of the rats and such that plagued our home. Now he is living in the basement and while I wish he was in my bed at night, he likes having his own space… sort of like the teenagers do!

    Cats are such an important pet and I agree with what you say about caring for them. I used to feed the feral cats in my neighborhood because I worried about them and eventually I was able to catch some and found them homes after vet visits. People sometimes forget that pets aren’t disposable. They have hearts too! Thanks for the reminder!

  3. My cats act like dogs, too, sometimes. When the dogs run to the door to go out, the cats are right with them and then I have to say sorry, guys. We used to have outside cats and too many of them met their demise too early. So I made the decision, no more outside for them. Although my old, very fat cat goes out in the fenced yard occasionally, in the summer. He’s too decrepit to climb the fence, LOL!
    Thanks for commenting and for saving the neighborhood cats.

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