Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
The misunderstood feline gets an image makeover
Dogs are living a more privileged, healthier life than cats, study reveals
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Misty Harris, Canwest News Service
In the epic cold war between cats and dogs, a recent study suggests that canines are getting a paw-up on the home front.
According to research published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs not only get showered with more affection from their owners than cats, they're also significantly more likely to receive medical services such as vaccinations, regular health exams and preventive dental care.
The multi-phase study, which was conducted with 2,000 dog and cat owners over three months, shows dog people are considerably more likely than cat people to spend whatever is necessary to keep their pet healthy (52 per cent versus 42 per cent), are more prone to seeing their animal as a child (43 per cent versus 36 per cent), more frequently buy gifts for the pet (48 per cent versus 34 per cent), and are more apt to miss their animal while away from home (58 per cent versus 47 per cent).
"The crisis is that cat health care is on the decline," says Jane E. Brunt, an AVMA spokeswoman and doctor of veterinary medicine. She believes the trend is partially linked to diminished views of cats in popular culture. "The stereotypes that surround cats are unfortunate -- that whole 'crazy cat lady' thing, the feeling that cats are sneaky, cats are aloof."
As chairwoman of the newly formed CATalyst Summit, a North American initiative that aims "to rebrand the cat . . . and give it a better identity," Brunt hopes she's able to promote awareness of the problem and encourage more responsible and attentive ownership. "People seem to feel dogs are more affectionate and fun to be with," says Brunt. "But that's not necessarily the case."
Tina Doucette, who has been fostering homeless animals in the Edmonton area for years, reports that cats far outnumber dogs in terms of owner neglect.
She recalls a heart-wrenching instance last April when she took in a cat that had been doused in kerosene. "The cat obviously got away before they did step two," says Doucette, who is baffled that anyone could think of hurting such a gentle creature.
During Kim McDonald's 10 years at the helm of the McDonald Family Animal Rescue, the Alberta woman has seen countless situations in which families abandoned, or planned to euthanize their cats just because they were moving and the animals didn't fit into their new living plans. "Cats are seen as much more disposable," says McDonald. "The whole 'out of sight, out of mind' thing really applies with cats. "If [owners] are tired of them, they'll just let them out and hope they don't come home."
McDonald recalls rescuing a Maine Coon cross days before he was scheduled to be put down because the cat, which had lived with its family for four years, became anxious around their new dog.
This type of favouritism is evident in the AVMA study.
In homes where cats and dogs lived together, fully one-third of the felines weren't being taken in for an annual vet exam in comparison with just 13 per cent of canines from the same household. The bias is also evident in the manufacturing world, where industry expert Carol Boker -- editor in chief of trade magazines Pet Product News and Pet Style News -- says dog merchandise outnumbers cat merchandise by about two to one.
Boker, however, suspects the product prejudice has more to do with the disposition of the animals than the feelings their owners have for them. "Dogs tend to roll with things easier," says Boker, herself the owner of a Labrador retriever. "Cats don't want to be dressed up and have all that fuss made over them. They're not into wearing jewelry."
Save some sympathy for the lowly rabbit
Published: Saturday, May 10, 2008
It's no surprise that dogs are living more privileged and healthier lives than cats. They're at the top of the "pet" hierarchy.
Rabbits, which are also companion animals, fare even lower than cats. They're often an impulse buy, and not valued in the same way as dogs are. Usually a "starter pet," they're perceived as throwaway, and thoughtlessly discarded in under six months.
Do a media story on a dog being abused or shot at, and the letters of outrage and offers of help will pour in.
Society has no such sympathy for the lowly rabbit.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008
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