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Domesticating animals great ... but cats?

August 01, 2009 at 07:05 AM

SPRINGFIELD STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER

Almost as soon as man began living with a roof over his head, he saw the advantages of taming wild animals to help him hunt, protect him, warn him of danger and get him from one place to another.

Even elephants were trained as early as 500 B.C. In addition to being used for heavy lifting, they were used in warfare to break the enemy’s ranks by trampling enemy soldiers.

Nothing could stop a war elephant. Alexander the Great halted his advance into India in about 330 B.C. when he realized the enemy could deploy 6,000 war elephants. One historian says, “His men became discouraged” when they realized they could be going up against a solid wall of pachyderms. No kidding.

Dogs became “man’s best friend” because they were loyal and could be trained to herd, or hunt, or run for help when a little boy fell into an abandoned well. Today, there are millions of dog owners around the world.

Still, despite the fact that no cat would interrupt its cat nap to do anything remotely useful, cats are by far the No. 1 household pet with an estimated 600 million housecats worldwide. There could be that many more feral cats living on the streets, around old homesteads and in the wild.

That is a lot of kitty litter. One third of American households have an indoor cat. Most cat people have more than one.

When it comes to people and their pets, practicality has slipped a cog. An accomplished house cat doesn’t do anything unless the mood strikes him at precisely the right moment. Beyond shedding enough hair to make several more cats, you can’t count on a house cat. They are more aloof than any pro athlete or movie star. Cat owners need their pets much more than the cats need them.

A recent article in Scientific American explored the origin of the house cat — how a wild creature, adept at fending for itself, ended up sitting in someone’s lap. Indications are that mankind might have made no effort to tame cats. The cats just showed up and moved in.

New archeological discoveries give rise to the theory that cats became domesticated about 10,000 years ago. When ancient farmers began growing and storing grain, feral cats followed the mice that followed the grain to the storehouses.

Cats are nothing if not opportunistic. Humans inadvertently supplied them with a constant food source in a fixed place. Cats learned to put up with people, and purr once in a while to stay near easy pickings. It became a situation of mutual tolerance. Cats caught mice, maybe a snake or two, and made ancient life a little tidier … until they hacked up a fur ball.

Centuries later, the ancient Egyptians became the first true cat lovers. They made cats an official deity.

That alone makes it makes it doubtful the Egyptians had brains enough to build pyramids without outside help.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

In terms of habitat preservation and wildlife conservation, cats are worse than useless. I read a study from Wisconsin that concluded that a feral cat could kill up to 2000 songbirds in it’s lifetime. and yes, that includes our quail pheasants and turkeys.
.......
Next time you talk to a legislator tell them they are an undereducated fool for writing a state law that gives feral cats protection as “companion animals”. Bunch of damn politically correct FOOLS that voted for that law.
........
Lets just write off our native songbird diversity so feral cats can run loose all over our farmsand parks and make for a bio-hell. This is a much more important issue than people give credit for.

Posted by Henry Holt on 08/02 at 10:31 PM

I’ll keep my 2 barn cats (both neutered), and you keep your rodents, snakes, rat poison, mousetraps, holes in walls, and stench of mouse pee in farm equipment and vehicles.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 11:15 AM

you are all entitled to your opinions about how domesticated cats are useless or pesky. and yes populations of feral cats are a problem, but let’s remember, it is Man’s fault the problem started not the cat’s.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 11:49 AM

oh yeah,
“That alone makes it makes it doubtful the Egyptians had brains enough to build pyramids without outside help.”

I don’t think worshiping a cat is any stupider than worshiping and believing in a big ancient fairy tale book or an almighty living in the sky. So remember that next time your in church Little Georgey Boy!
And put some tender vittles in the collection plate.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 11:56 AM

Glad to hear your cats are neutered. Nothing wrong with a couple of barn cats if you aren’t making problems for your neighbors. I don’t store grain on my farm so my rodent issue is limited to a few mousetraps when the weather turns cold.
...
Anyway it’s the FERAL cats that are the problem, and a dumb state law that classifies them as “companion animals”. Completely rediculous…..feral cats are about as companion-able as a coyote and as invasive as Johnson grass.

Posted by Henry Holt on 08/03 at 12:27 PM

Its a human issue here.  Its the morons that get a cat then don’t want it, then release it out in the country.  Seen it too many times.  I saw very few true feral cats in the 13 years I worked at a vet clinic.  Im with you SNS, I will keep my two neutered mousers outside.  There is no smell worse than mouse pee in my book.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 03:16 PM

“There is no smell worse than mouse pee in my book.”  Well, maybe rotten soybeans might be a little worse, but not much… wink

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 03:34 PM

Remember if a cat is your friend thats the best one you will ever have because a cat depends on no one. Was that Shakespeare?  Oh it must have been.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 05:53 PM

I think these guys are on the right track… http://www.chaiokitty.com

Posted by Henry Holt on 08/03 at 06:22 PM

Cats are an incredible animal, if you were to ask me. I have 4 of them, 2 were wild cats that someone abandoned while they were young and the other 2 were from the pound. My wild cats turned domesticated are the very best pets we have every had period! I can place raw red meat on the table and walk away from it and those cats will not even think about eating it. They are trained so well they will follow us for a walk, hang out with us while hanging tree stands for my wife, sleep on my work bench while mounting a deer head, etc. Better yet, we can leave for weeks at a time and they are self sufficient. They can find water and food if they were to run out before we got back. Our biggest cat even woke us up on purpose at 2:30 am by jumping on our bed, crying out loud over an over again to let us know that something was wrong. I got up to find a monster raccoon in our kitchen garbage can! They’ll do the same if they hear the door being messed with at night. I’ve had pet everything…dogs, deer, ducks, turkeys, etc. and they are by far the easiest to take care of. Having said all of that, they are incredible hunters! No mouse, vole, rabbits in the garden anymore, etc. since we’ve acquired these cats. They’re every bit as loyal as our dogs were, if not more.

Posted by Marc Anthony on 08/03 at 08:35 PM

Cats are funny. My two cats refuse to go outside and would probably just sit and watch as a mouse scampered across the floor and started stealing food from their bowls. Lazy furballs. But they’re smart enough to know that that’s all that is required of them and that I would eventually refill their bowls. I tell them to get a job almost every day as they are napping on my bed while I have to get up to go to work….my wife loves em. I appreciate their intelligence (even though we have sheltered them from natural selection).
No doubt feral cats are a problem and it could surprise some of us to find out how many are lurking out there, living under our porches and patios or in our barns or sheds.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/04 at 07:17 AM

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