Several years ago I traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and then in another trip I went to Greece. I was struck by the surrounding population of struggling cats. Stray cats were every where you turned.
I noticed that most of the people who lived there were accepting and kind to the animals, for the most part. I think many of them took it upon themselves to toss the animals some scraps of food from time to time to alleviate their starvation.
It just seemed to be such a contrast to what I see here in Canada and the USA. In my suburbs and cities you would rarely see an actual stray. Yes, you might see a neighborhood cat out for a walk, but not a skinny starving cat. So, on one hand, you have a culture that agrees to live cooperatively with the homeless, wild felines, whereas in our culture we trap them and take them to Animal Services where they are generally euthanized.
So one culture lives in greater harmony with them while another views them as better dead than starving? Are we just trying to remove the difficult issues from our sight? Are we so afraid of the consequences of growing populations of stray cats? Are we trying to sterilize our experience of nature? Is that how we view humans, better to put to sleep than be starving? Fortunately there is a growing movement of Cat Rescue programs that are working tirelessly to find homes for abandoned cats.
Westerners seem to be increasingly intolerant of their neighbor’s cats as well. Some city bylaws restrict the freedom of cats, and allow humane trapping. So now the cats should be unseen and unheard? That sort of sounds like the old fashioned view of child rearing that was replaced a few generations ago. People view their property as theirs and often don’t want feline trespassers. Can Mother Earth ever really be owned?
It was interesting to see stray cats walking through open air restaurants in Greece. The owners didn’t seem to be overly concerned by it. In fact, it was a very novel and refreshing sight for many tourists to see. Others simply ignored it.
Another trend that I see and feel among westerners is a strong desire among cat caregivers to protect their cats from harm. This includes exposure to vehicle traffic, wild animals, unsympathetic neighbors, and neighborhood bully cats to name the most common dangers. This stems from their deep love and attachment to their pets with a desire to control their environment.
Outdoor cat enclosures are becoming the western solution to allow cats a bit of freedom in a controlled and safe environment.