More on pets: part 2

Following on from “Take care of your pets” and “More on pets: part 1“.

Looking at the evidence for sterilisation we can’t really claim that it is more harmful to sterilise a cat than not. However the situation for dogs should give us pause when we consider how things may change as more information comes to light. So does this then mean that we should just sterilise freely? Not quite, there are other things that need to be taken into account, such as whether we should be considering such a path at all.

Sterilisation, whether good or not, is still a major procedure and one that has real impacts. A question that we should then ask ourselves is whether it is something that we have the right to do. Are we able to impose decisions that are for the best in situations where an individual won’t make that decision themselves?

In humans we would say no. We value a person’s right to self-determination and leave them to make decisions that we may not consider to be in their best interests. In the case of cats though they are not as capable of making decisions, so should we make their decisions? I’d say evidence does point to animals being capable of thinking but there is limited evidence on their ability to make decisions about the future and plan. In some animals they do seem to do this but we have no way of conveying sterilisation information to cats and letting them plan. Therefore I would say we can allow animals to make short-term decisions, such as when to eat, where to sleep and so on, but, as their guardians, we must make the long-term decisions that are the best for the animal in question.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and no matter whether we are acting for the best we may be missing something. The concern here is what do such decisions do about our perception of animals? Do we view than as individuals or as objects? Currently we own animals, they can be bought, sold and they have no say in matters of their care. Are we perhaps becoming too blinded by trying to do what is best that we don’t see what we are doing in our attempts to accomplish it? Do we really want a world where we can go into a pet shop and can pick a cat from a list?

-Male or female
-Available in black, ginger and tortoiseshell.
-Eye colour depends on model and not all combinations are possible.
-Uterus or testicles removed unless by prior arrangement
-Claws optional
-No refunds or exchanges after 30 days

Cats are not just objects that can be modified to suit the customer. This all ties into something Matthew Scully has called the commodification of animals in his book, Dominion. They are no longer seen as creatures to be cared for but commodities to be owned. They are living creatures and needed to be accepted as such. When you want to change their basic form, removing organs, you need to ask yourself if you really want a cat or just like the idea of a cat. Do you not, perhaps, just want a warm toy?

I’m not going to tell you what to do, whether you should or shouldn’t sterilise your cat. I am only asking that you think more clearly about what you do do. Have you learned about both the positive and negative effects? Don’t be fooled into thinking there are no negatives. Are you able to justify altering another creature to suit your ideals? Are there alternatives better suited to your needs? I’ve ignored alternatives in this expansion but there is a little information on them in the Wikipedia article. After you’ve done all that, then make your decision, but don’t make one before thinking about what you are doing.


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