I have been pondering this question since entering into a discussion on this thread about declawing cats.
Is keeping an animal as a pet a cruel act? If we’re talking about a wild animal that is caught and kept in an artificial environment, it seems pretty clear that at least some people might find that cruel. But what about a domestic cat? Is that different? Is it okay if it is allowed outdoors to hunt and defend its territory?
It seems to me, though, that in feeding a cat prepared cat food, giving it a place to come in from the weather, vaccinating it against various diseases, and causing it to become accustomed to human contact, I have created an artificial environment that would seem to change the cat’s nature. Is this wrong?
Obviously, we aren’t going to find any sort of agreement here. Rather, I’m interested in where various people draw the line. If declawing is cruel, what about neutering? Is keeping a cat indoors cruel, even if it provides that cat with a longer and healthier life?
Long ago, I adopted two cats. These cats lived pretty good lives, but being outdoors does have its risks. One disappeared for three days once, and came crawling back home with the side of his face smashed in. He’d been hit my something small that took a triangular divot out of his cheek and blinded his eye. He recovered, and continued to catch birds one-eyed. The other had to see the vet several times for infections resulting from fights he got into.
Even longer ago, my childhood pet was a cat. He was an outdoor cat until we moved. Our new house was on a busy street, not backed by woods as our previous home had been. At first, we kept him indoors. He spent a lot of time mewing at the windows. Eventually, my mom explained that she would let him outside after all, because even if it meant he died sooner, his life would be more pleasurable. He managed to survive town life; we moved to a more rural area, and he was eventually hit by a school bus when he became too blind and slow to get out of the way.
When we decided to adopt cats again a few years ago, it was with the understanding that we would not be able to allow them to go outside. (We live on the second floor of a 2-family and cannot use cat doors because we have a problem in our area with rabid raccoons.) I imagine that some people might say that we should simply not have adopted them, as we could not provide them with an adequate environment.
I am truly interested in people’s viewpoints on this issue. I hope that the discussion can remain civil and allow us to explore this complicated issue.