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You’ve Gotta Love ’Em For It
Whenever I observe stress in the facial expression of my mother, a typical senior, I also observe how that stress drains from her face and is replaced with joyful adoration when our pet feline enters the room: “Hi, sweetheart,” she’ll say. And I know that countless other seniors—not to mention myself (whether consciously or subconsciously)—with pets also experience the emotional benefits of hosting a cherished pet.
As for our pleasantly docile current pet cat, his predecessor had on occasion bitten and/or scratched me when she’d gotten irritated—or teased, of which I’m known to be guilty—yet she was nonetheless cherished her for being herself and for the therapeutic benefits just her presence alone bestowed upon us.
Because they have scent glands on their cheeks and hips, cats tend to (adoringly) rub their hips and cheeks against their human hosts’ legs (or other parts of our bodies when we’re sitting) as a sign of both affection and to mark us as their territory. This is also why they just love to have their cheeks scratched.
Admittedly, though, many cat lovers misinterpret pet felines’ licks along their hands, arms or even cheeks, as affection, while the cats most probably are simply savoring the natural salt on their hosts’ skin. Regardless, many of us love watching/feeling our cats’ adorable pink tongue enjoying the salt. Also, when a host is feeling depressed, a pet cat’s sweet purrs and murrs can lift one’s heavy heart, and one’s left only desiring to hear some more of the feline’s soul-soothing chatter.
So, being a fan of felines myself, I often enjoy the presence of others’ pet felines. Indeed, when I missed an editorial-board-members’ meeting of a publication to which I often contribute (I got my days mixed up and thus made the long trip from White Rock to Vancouver apparently for naught), I nevertheless felt some gratitude by the fact that I got to visit and pet the black cat—who happens to look just like our family cat—at the veterinarian clinic near my destination (i.e., I felt it was not a totally wasted trip).
My mother says that, “humans are the real ‘animals’; it’s the animals who are human[e].” For so long, domesticated animals have been abused and discarded like trash if they were not adored by some animal lover. Ironically, this cruelty occurs while the abusers are ignorant to the healthy symbiosis existing between animals (many of us see them as family members) and their loving and appreciative human hosts—especially physically- and/or mentally-ill hosts.
Indeed, animals have a beneficial influence over humanity that many people still cannot fathom; and this beautiful reality of animals’ positive effect on their human hosts can also be beneficial to the animals. Besides numerous studies revealing the health-benefits to humans (their high blood pressure is alleviated, for example) when in proximity, and especially when in physical contact, with a domesticated animal, the fact is, when a cat or dog, for instance, is lovingly petted down along its back, it acts as a sort of soothing and healing massage, and that animal’s lifespan and good health increase considerably.
Many health-care homes are already adopting cats and/or dogs to reside at the facilities, and the data available has revealed the improvement in the health of many patients since the facilities’ adoptions of such pets. In a June 14, 2000, Vancouver Sun article it was written that scientific proof reveals a “powerful man-beast bond that transforms lives, alleviates depression and disease, gives direction to the blind and comfort to the lonely and fills homes with a measure of uncomplicated joy that is impossible to fully appreciate until it is gone.” This fact has but vastly increased in awareness and even measurability since then and will almost certainly continue to do so.
All of which is why I was pleased to read in a news story some time ago that the B.C. branch of SPCA had a limited-time “moratorium” on its non-health-related euthanasia of excess unwanted animals, the vast majority of which were/are felines. To solidify a no-kill policy within SPCA policy would undoubtedly be a spectacular achievement in the history of “humane” humanity.
On the much more unpleasant serious issue of needlessly suffering cats, currently tens of thousands of stray, homeless and feral cats are roaming Surrey (B.C., Canada) parks and streets. Incredibly and extremely sad, many are domesticated yet nonetheless abandoned by their owners, left to fend for themselves against the wilds; and even with the plethora of deforestation due to relatively massive development, Surrey is still filled with much forested hide-outs for very hungry coyotes salivating for such easy prey as aimlessly wandering docile-natured domesticated cat and kittens.
Meanwhile, humanity’s overall apathetic (if not outright callous) inhumane streak is to blame for this totally avoidable suffering of fellow sentient mammals. It seems that many people in our ‘civilized’ society allow themselves to dismiss it all, since one way or another by being preyed upon by bigger wild animals and mass euthanasia, that enormous yet gratuitous quantity of feline misery should soon enough diminish.
Furthermore, the last that I’d heard Surrey city council had refused to fund a desperately needed spay-and-neuter program, claiming that taxpayers already give enough to the local SPCA.
Absolutely unbelievable! These animals experience great suffering, be it at the biting sharp-toothed jaws of a large predator or left without shelter in the biting cold.
What really burns me, however, is that the same Surrey council, while refusing to allocate any additional funding towards a desperately needed universal source of emergency spaying and neutering of these suffering felines, also refuses to fully outlaw all pet-cat owners from allowing their felines to wander outdoors unattended, nor to strictly enforce the spaying and neutering of all adopted cats and kittens unless specifically licensed to breed their felines through humane means.
It may sound unfeasible and inconvenient to some uncaring feline owners who just want something soft to stroke now and then as though the pet cat/kitten was about as susceptible to pain and suffering as a stuffed toy animal, but such a desperate inhumane situation definitely calls for assertively meaningful compassionate action …
… Plus, let’s face it: cats have been sufficiently superficially unfortunate to have been cursed with snake-like ‘vertical slit’ pupils’ and open-mouthed, fanged hiss when feeling threatened and/or frightened. Thus they’ll likely remain entangled within a half-witted Hollywood-cliché implicit condemnation for the foreseeable future. Yet, perhaps resulting from past bulk contemptible treatment of their species cats already innately sense that they’re somehow meant to be but a popular target of persecution as they’ve been throughout history. Indeed, those cats unfortunate enough to be born black were once demonized and thus ordered to be slaughtered en masse by the early Church—until, of course, humane citizens strongly protested the church’s death warrant on all of those innocent cats.
From a contemporary perspective on their (lacking) value even as just sentient life forms, feline unpopularity has made it easier for some conscience-challenged people to practice their own ‘homemade’ versions of cat euthanasia: For example, I recently read a disturbing news story about ten kittens from two separate litters being found taped shut in a cardboard box and left behind a Greater Vancouver area garbage bin on a sweltering summer day. A local vet was reported as stating that the kittens wouldn’t have lasted another hour for great lack of necessities of life, including fresh air.
Then some weeks later I read a disturbing news story about a man convicted of killing—or, as he suggested via semantics, put to sleep—his own pet cat with his own bare hands by strangling him (‘Oreo’ was his name) to death. My cynical side cannot help but to deride the inhumane side of collective humanity that may consciously and/or subconsciously feel, Oh, there’s a lot more from where they came …
As a priority rule and not as a half-assed effort, they should be collected and spayed or neutered; perhaps their eventual great reduction in number will then translate into proper appreciation or at least respect as sentient life.
Furthermore, it would greatly help if respective city halls ordered that pet cats be confined indoors when not on a torso-brace leash and accompanied by their owners. Yes, pet cats likely will go through ‘outdoors withdrawal’ and cry a raucous by the front door; however, keeping them healthy and safe should make their finite whining worthwhile.
As for their misperceived worthlessness as pets by many people, cats can be very pleasant if they receive enough genuine affection, including verbal attention. Besides physical contact, such includes frequent talks to them (judging from my cat’s behavior, they can appreciate an enthusiastic talking to). As with dogs, it’s often a case of the appreciative cat owners receiving pretty much what they put into their pet cats.
ODE: to an Animal’s Absence of Malice
People, generally, can be quite cruel
towards their animals, indeed so mean,
yes, the abuse is truly quite obscene,
where’s the law to take a staunch stand and rule
against cruelty to Earth’s prime jewel?
many creatures are basically clean
and yet they need people to intervene
in this cruelty—make love mutual.
Society should not play the plain fool,
the preciousness of unity between
man and beast must exclude any dual
over who should act as the household queen,
indeed the friendship should hold renewal,
pet, master should on one another lean.
Frank G Sterle Jr