I believe that it was Gandhi who said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. What does it say about us then when the RSPCA had to euthanase more than 17,000 of the 58,000-odd cats it took in in Australia during FY2015?
As I see it there are 2 factors at work. Firstly, the situation is caused in part by some irresponsible pet owners and unscrupulous breeders. Those who either refuse or don’t bother desexing their pets are the enablers letting the situation develop where there are thousands of unwanted animals born each year. The lucky ones get taken in and fostered by rescue agencies most of whom have a no-kill policy. The rather less lucky ones end up with the RSPCA either directly or via councils. I say less lucky because a significant proportion end up euthanased (for a variety of reasons) as is demonstrated by the above statistic. Then there are the really unlucky ones who are simply abandoned, or worse. People, if you aren’t prepared to desex your companion animal then I suggest you forgo pet ownership. It should also ring alarm bells if you are acquiring an animal and it’s being sold without the desexing procedure having been done.
The other driver is that some prospective owners feel the need to have a certain breed, and consider their only option is to go to a breeder. Economics 101 determines that when there is demand, supply will, all else being equal, follow. As far as cats go, by far the most common type you’ll find on adoption sites is your garden variety domestic short hair. I know Pussa and Soph agree 100% when I say, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the old DSH brand! However, if your heart is set on a specific breed don’t dismiss the possibility of finding one through a rescue site. Cats end up in rescue agencies for all sorts of reasons, and I defy anyone to read the orphaned pet stories and not think, yep that sounds like the cat for me….regardless of breed.
When we were adopting Pussa and then Soph we were so excited at the prospect of a new furry friend, but in equal measure sad and guilty. The guilt was because so many cats had had a pretty ordinary start to life, and you want to make things better by taking them all home with you. But it was also that uncomfortable feeling of being witness to another example of our society’s want for newness, and our acceptance of disposability.
We adopted Pussa in 2009 and Soph in 2010, and for us, choosing to adopt instead of buy provided an enormous sense of satisfaction. While taking 2 cats out of the system in 7 years hardly seems like a mammoth effort, it meant we freed up foster places for 2 other cats and have provided our two with a safe, healthy and happy life. What they have given their humans in return however has been a hundred times that.