After giving away most of my material possessions, saying good bye to family and friends, and moving to the other side of the this planet1 I am in place (in the broad sense) to consider fostering (possibly adopting) a cat from a shelter. I am still trying to get my head around/resolve some concerns and a moral conundrum. In reflecting on these, I share some concerns that the words of others have helped me to gain perspective on — to a point which I feel I can make an informed decision.
I am opposed to the notion of a ‘pet’, of animals being chattel property. That we can walk into a store and buy an animal, that this animal becomes ‘ours’ and that we have a number of legal rights to do what we wish (within differing limits, depending on where we live) is predicated by and on human chauvanism. There are many others who have provided clear expressions of the why behind this, so I will not expand on that here.
I also have concern with keeping companion animals locked up. The most clear example being birds in a cage (I am horrified how many Australian bird species I have seen as ‘exotic’ pets in other stores and homes in other countries). I also have issues with dogs in yards, cats indoors, etc, etc. To me a cage is a cage irrespective of size. This has been one of two significant issues that have played a significant role in my not adopting an animal in the past (my transient status, and not feeling that I could provide enough care/attention, what I would consider adequate are also significant concerns/barriers). My thoughts on the housing of companion animals (in specific circumstances) have since been influenced by people who someone I meant earlier this year.
To put it simply, keeping an animal locked up is preferable to an animal being kept in a shelter, and most likely euthanised because of how fucked up our society is.
The numbers of companion animals euthanised every day is astounding (in the order of 10 million in the USA, based on 1997 figures) — all because of the manifestations of anthropocentrism, subset by notions of what is considered cute and the whims of animals as accessories.
In light of this, I feel that I can do at least something to improve the life an an animal whose suffering is no fault of there own, rather our species’ outrageous non-consideration and selfishness. In such a context, restrictions on freedom (i.e. some level of a ‘cage’) are not as significant as issue. Notwithstanding concerns that I may not be home enough, I feel that I can do something here.
My main stumbling block is a moral conundrum2 that I have struggled with for more than a decade. It is a conundrum as there is not an ideal outcome. To frame this directly, how can I justify killing one animal to keep another alive? I am aware, and have discussed the issue of vegan cats with a number of people at length — many of the stories have been fraught with concern and struggles seeking to ensure health and well being. Serious health (urinary tract) issues have emerged with many people who have rescued cats and sought to feed them a vegan diet — even those commercially available and advertised as 100% nutritionally complete.
To be clear, I do not have issue with cats being carnivores. My issue is the farming of animals by humans to feed other animals. We should not be farming animals at all. The moral conundrum is rooted in a moral disconnect at best, and a moral schizophrenia at worst.
I guess what emerges from this is that I need to do more research on the suitability of vegan cat food…