Tuesday, January 03, 2006

More cat owners asking about kidney transplant for pets

Kidney transplant for Pets

Here's the interview I did last week and I missed it on television myself. It's a very difficult situation, and it does bring up a lot of issues, though I could of course understand why a pet owner would do it for a beloved companion animal.

25 Comments:

Blogger yskat said...

Do people know why renal disease is "very, very common" (quoting Dr Boon) in cats? Could this be due to lifestyle or dietary factors?

3/1/06 12:44 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

two quotes for ref:
1) The end of the article "What's Really In Pet Food", much food for thought (pun half intended), http://tinyurl.com/8p9pw or http://www.api4animals.org/79.htm :
"Urinary tract disease is directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Plugs, crystals, and stones in cat bladders are often triggered or aggravated by commercial pet food formulas. One type of stone found in cats is less common now, but another more dangerous type has become more common. Manipulation of manufactured cat food formulas to alter the acidity of urine and the amount of some minerals has directly affected these diseases. Dogs also form stones as a result of their diet.

History has shown that commercial pet food products can cause disease. An often-fatal heart disease in cats and some dogs is now known to be caused by a deficiency of the amino acid taurine. Blindness is another symptom of taurine deficiency. This deficiency was due to inadequate amounts of taurine in cat food formulas, which itself occurred because of decreased amounts of animal proteins and increased reliance on carbohydrates. Cat foods are now supplemented with taurine. New research suggests that supplementing taurine may also be helpful for dogs, but as yet few manufacturers are adding extra taurine to dog food. Inadequate potassium in certain feline diets also caused kidney failure in young cats; potassium is now added in greater amounts to all cat foods.

Rapid growth in large breed puppies has been shown to contribute to bone and joint disease. Excess calories and calcium in some manufactured puppy foods promoted rapid growth. There are now special puppy foods for large breed dogs. But this recent change will not help the countless dogs who lived and died with hip and elbow disease.

There is also evidence that hyperthyroidism in cats may be related to excess iodine in commercial pet food diets.9 This is a new disease that first surfaced in the 1970s, when canned food products appeared on the market. The exact cause and effect are not yet known. This is a serious and sometimes terminal disease, and treatment is expensive.

Many nutritional problems appeared with the popularity of cereal-based commercial pet foods. Some have occurred because the diet was incomplete. Although several ingredients are now supplemented, we do not know what ingredients future researchers may discover that should have been supplemented in pet foods all along. Other problems may result from reactions to additives. Others are a result of contamination with bacteria, mold, drugs, or other toxins. In some diseases the role of commercial pet food is understood; in others, it is not. The bottom line is that diets composed primarily of low quality cereals and rendered meat meals are not as nutritious or safe as you should expect for your cat or dog."



2) http://www.homevet.com/petcare/feedingyourcat.html :


"Cats Need Plenty of Water With Their Food

Another extremely important nutrient with respect to overall health is water. It is very important for a cat to ingest water with its food, as the cat does not have a very strong thirst drive. This is a critical point. This lack of a strong thirst drive leads to low-level, chronic dehydration when dry food makes up the bulk of their diet. Cats are designed to obtain most of their water with their diet since their normal prey contains ~70% water. Dry foods only contain ~10% water whereas canned foods contain ~78% water. Canned foods therefore more closely approximate the natural diet of the cat and are better suited to meet the cat’s water needs. A cat consuming a predominantly dry-food diet does drink more water than a cat consuming a canned food diet, but in the end, when water from all sources is added together (what’s in their diet plus what they drink), the cat on dry food consumes approximately HALF the amount of water compared with a cat eating canned foods. This is a crucial point when one considers how common kidney and bladder problems are in the cat."



Other links on diet/nutrition:
- http://cats.about.com/od/catfoodandnutrition/ from http://cats.about.com/
- http://www.felinefuture.com/nutrition/bpo_ch4.php

3/1/06 2:57 PM  
Anonymous E_Cat said...

lower grade biscuits increases suspectibility of renal problems. having said that biological predisposition does act as an important factor in the equation.

we have a feeder who upgraded a couple of months back to IAMS biscuits after one stray died of kidney failure.

most vets would advise us to stay clear of whiskas and friskies as they yield higher risk toward kidney problems

3/1/06 3:34 PM  
Blogger yskat said...

Thanks, bc, for the information. If what you quoted in (2) is true, we are going to see a lot of community cats die of kidney and bladder problems. Hopefully the risk of this can be lowered by doing what e_cat suggests, that is, avoiding certain brands of dry food.

3/1/06 3:46 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

yskat, you're welcome.

One of the things we do for our community cats is to provide a bowl of water, which we change daily. Also, whenever we feed, we put the water bowl next to the food, and encourage them to drink.

For home cats, consider getting a water fountain, it really works wonders in enticing the moggies to slurp h2o!

Food wise, read up the links listed, with particular reference to the end of the first quote. (Quick primer: Why All The Fuss About Cat Food http://cats.about.com/cs/catfood/a/whyfussfood.htm)

All pet food ingredients are listed by order of weightage, 1st 5 make up 90-95% of the formula. If the food you're feeding lists byproducts as one of the top 5 (read "What's wrong with by-products" here: http://cats.about.com/od/catfoodandnutrition/f/byproducts.htm ), and the rest are made up of 'fillers' (read What cat food ingredient should I avoid? http://cats.about.com/od/catfoodandnutrition/f/avoidingred.htm ): ie corn, corn gluten etc, the food you're feeding is helping to set up your cats for renal failure and other health problems in the long term. Check out petfood sites online, supermarkets or your supplier, very easy to see.

The use of byproducts and fillers is not surprising if your pet food brand is Science Diet, Royal Canin, Whiskas, Friskies, Eukanuba, Iams, Purina, Pedigree, Pro Plan, or one of the other commonly available/ cheap/popular brands.

For anyone wondering how come meat parts that humans don't eat end up in pet foods like Science Diet, IAMS and Eukanuba, here's yet another excerpt from the excellent "What's Really In Pet Food" article (http://tinyurl.com/8p9pw or http://www.api4animals.org/79.htm):

"What most consumers don't know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered "unfit for human consumption," and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.

Three of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational companies: Nestlé (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One), Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature's Recipe), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill's Science Diet Pet Food). Other leading companies include Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams), Mars (Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham's), and Nutro. From a business standpoint, multinational companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products, and pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients."

3/1/06 4:35 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

E_C,
going from Whiskas or Friskies to IAMS is not much of an improvement - not an upgrade per se. It's like the Chinese saying: Change the soup but not the medicine.

3/1/06 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... what do we feed our cats?

3/1/06 5:02 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Anon,
Good decent food =) Seriously, good rule of thumb is, if you're particular about what you put in your mouth, it goes to reason that you have to particular about what you put in your cats' mouths.

Here's a test you might try: one of our own moggies was put on Science Diet's k/d formula (which has the same byproducts and fillers that pack normal SD formulas) due to acute renal failure (yes, one of the wakeup signs we got), and when he was well enough to eat a mix of k/d and the regular food the others were having, he'd pick out the k/d and jsut eat the decent stuff! And you know what? When we took a sniff test with the k/d and the usual grub the others ate, it was really easy to see why he was so upset with having to eat k/d!

My advice: check out suppliers (beware the ones who can just tell you prices or push particular brands just cos "it's good", "very popular" without being able to say WHY), talk to other cat feeders. And importantly, if you talk to your vet, and he recommends something he *happens* to carry in his clinic... ask him WHY does he support that brand, and what others does he think are good.

This is not a food promo post- but personally, we're now using Natural Balance (http://www.naturalbalanceinc.com/) , and Pinnacle (http://www.breeders-choice.com/pinnacle.htm ). We settled on these two after a LONG search - it is unbelievable, the level of product ignorance of most petfood suppliers. We finally met a supplier who is ethical, knowledgeable about her products, and knows about pet food, nutrition and the attendant health issues, and only because she agreed to help us that we were able to get Natural Balance in Singapore.

Anyway, you can check out the sites for a reference of what you might expect to read on the ingredients list of a decent pet food formula/brand.

For us, both these brands have the personal added significance of being cruelty-free - no animal testing etc, unlike the highly notorious IAMS and Eukanuba. Because, it stands to reason that if you're feeding community cats or have home cats of your own. it's because you love cats - so why support a pet food that tortures other cats???

Cheers, Anon.

3/1/06 5:37 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Some people suggest feeding your cats home cooked food.

I did ask a vet why renal disease was so prevalent in cats and they said that it was just because it's a common disease in cats.

3/1/06 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are both Natural Balance and Pinnacle easily available in pet shops here?

3/1/06 7:26 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Hi Dawn,
Yeah, home cooked food will avoid all the pitfalls of processed food - byproducts, fillers, harmful preservatives, risk of expired ingredients (remember the friskies recall 1 or 2 yrs back due to contaminated/moldy grains?) or otherwise non-edible ingreidents (mad-cow diseased beef for eg).

However, since we're still not giving them the whole hog, as to speak, additional supplements are needed. The lady who helps us foster our waiting-to-be-adopted slackers adds lysine, cod liver oil and I recommend vit e too. For our own home bums though, nothing works - they just don't want any of it! Even canned food's like junk to them. So we have to look for decent dry-food formulas.

Here's also a bit of home-cooking tip for serving kidney patient-cats. For our own kidney boy, when he was ready to be weaned off k/d, the vet recommended that we try cooking chicken and fish for him, as these two meats have proteins that are easier to digest than red meats - strictly no fancy stuff like loins or steaks, just plain old white chicken meat and good fleshy fish. In addition, he highly encouraged the addition of cod liver oil too, and said the oilier the better, as oily is good for kidney cats, and cod liver oil ideal. Too bad, the stubborn little coot refuses to eat homecooked food, despite tough love and cajoling.

btw, we also rescued an abandoned advanced kidney failure old girl, Abby, on 9 Dec, and euthanised her on 17 Dec. During this time, we also grilled the vet on causes and prevention of kidney failure, especially since we've got the lucky old coot ourselves... he said that everything he told us were his own opinion as to date, there is no comprehensive study on renal failure at all, and we don't even have a decent renal failure cat profile! Fat? Thin? Big? Small? Male? Female? Nada, zilch. all that can be said is that it is the older cats who tend to get it.


ANON,
I doubt these two brands are easily available - for NB, the dog food IS, but cat food is difficult to find. You can try your suppliers, but I won't hold my hopes up - we talekd to one who carried NB dog, and got promise after promise of helping us bring in some NB catfood, but nothing was ever done.

If you can't find them in your regular shops, try Loving Pets. tel: 63461286. Talk to the owner, Jane, about nutrition, whether in general or abot specific brands/ingredients. It will be a very rewarding conversation.

Anon, thank you for being willing to think about the nutrition for your cats. It is an important thing to be concerned with. But it is important too that you understand the reasons behind my posts, so I encourage you to read those resources i've provided and to talk to people - but remember, don't just take anyone's word for it... make your own judgment.

On the other hand, there are those who are so enamoured of set ways and ideas that they won't even admit there may be a problem. There is no smoke without fire, I'd liek to say, but I have come across stubborn and defensive people who take the mentality of "if it ain't broke, i ain't fixing it", but when i ask them this question, they go all silent or obnoxiously defensive: knowing what we know about the harm of smoking, if you have a loved one who smokes, do you nothing while he/she puffs away, and regret only when he/she dies from lung cancer, or do you try your best to persuade him/her to give up smoking?

It is true that changing to a better dry food is no guarantee against renal failure or any other health problem, but we should try our best, to the best of our knowledge, to minimise the possibility of that happening, right?

And why should we be content with feeding our cats food made with byproducts as the only meat source when we ourselves wouldn't touch the gunk? After all, byproducts are remains of animals that manufacturers won't or are not allowed to make into human food.

Lastly, remember that price is a guide to but is not the only determining factor of the decency of a petfood brand/formula. That is why switching from Whiskas or Friskies to a more expensive brand in itself is not the "Upgrade" that E_C thinks it is, especially when it is another brand that uses byproducts as the only meat source and the same fillers to round out the top five ingredients.

Here's an easy test: make a comparison of the ingredients list of these three brands, and you'll see the same difference.


bc

4/1/06 9:10 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

Oh, in recompense for all the verbiage about nutrition (sorry, Dawn), I feel I should say something about the actual topic of this blog entry:

To me, it is not a matter of how I feel about it though. It is a matter of what's really for the cats involved.

The recipient did not ask for a new kidney, neither did the donor agree to donate. And I am of the opinion that, given the compromised state of health of both donor and recipient cats, due the fact they would both have only one functional kidney after going through the whole ordeal of undergoing the operation, why not let the kidney failure cat live out his/her life with dignity and love, and adopt/ save the donor cat's life by adopting him/her as a whole cat instead?

I too have just lost a beloved moggie in Oct 05 to intestinal cancer, and am keeping my fingers crossed for the one who's had acute failure and is now on the mend. So I fully emphathise with a pet owner (personally I prefer the term care-giver) who has feelings of wanting to go through the procedure if she could.

Don't get me wrong, I am tempted too, to want the transplant for my old kitty coot, who wouldn't be? But ultimately, I wouldn't make that choice. Transplanting a kidney is just prolonging the inevitable for the recipient cat, and dragging a donor cat into the situation (what happens to the poor donor cat if he suffers illness from the op or worse, kidney failure later?), so why not accept it and instead do something in honour of the love your cat has for you, and you for him, that is positive and has positive outcomes instead?

As my vet said when he was asking us to consider the options for my intestinal cancer kitty: Remember, you don't matter. We are all here purely for your cat's sake. Think about what's best for her, not your own selfish reasons - to assuage your guilt, to ease your feelings of sadness, loneliness or regret at having to let her go, whatever. There is no "Me" or "I" in this situation, and there shouldn't be. So forget all those questions that revolves around your interest, and just THINK: what is the best thing you can do FOR her?

I mean no offense or insult, just stating an opinion so please read it as I intended and don't view any personal insult in this post.

Thank you for reading.

bc

4/1/06 9:50 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Very interesting.

Pinnacle is available at Petz Stuff, although it's limited stock Tel: 62710664 - Ms. Arlene

Hi BC, can you comment on Avoderm? i was told Natural Balance, Pinnacle and Avoderm are from the same manufacturer. If they are indeed from the same group, can i say the standard and quality of the food should be similiar.

4/1/06 12:24 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Hi Mary,
Avoderm and Pinnacle are from the same manufacturer, but NB is from a totally different company.

Of the three, Avoderm is cheapest, and it is cheap because though it does not use byproducts, it does have fillers - one evil less, but not good enough apparently, as one of our cats has sensitive digestive system which means he pukes up all that corn content and also because of the attached quote from http://www.homevet.com/petcare/feedingyourcat.html, we switched to Pinnacle.

Pinnacle, because it has neither byproducts nor fillers, is more expensive. NB is the same, but it is a more expensive food than Pinnacle, but very very good. NB is also the only petfood on PETA's list of humane petfood companies that does not have fillers. The others don't have byproducts, but do use fillers.

But in any case, I'm citing these two brands as examples of what decent cat food should be because they're what we found we could live with, in terms of feeding our cats and also in terms of our view on animal testing and cruelty. Please feel free to do your research and if you come across other good brands, share them please! =)

bc


"We Are Feeding Cats Too Many Carbohydrates

In their natural setting, cats—whose unique biology makes them true carnivores--would not consume the high level of carbohydrates (grains) that are in the dry foods that we routinely feed them. You would never see a wild cat chasing down a herd of biscuits running across the plains of Africa or dehydrating her mouse and topping it off with corn meal gluten souffle! In the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture content, meat-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only ~6-9% of her diet consisting of carbohydrates. The average dry food contains 35-50% carbohydrates. Some of the cheaper dry foods contain even higher levels. This is NOT the diet that Mother Nature intended for your cat to eat! A high quality canned food, on the other hand, contains ~3-6% carbohydrates. Cats have a physiological decrease in the ability to utilize carbohydrates due to the lack of specific enzymatic pathways that are present in other mammals, and the lack a salivary enzyme called amylase. Cats not only have no dietary need for carbohydrates, but too many carbohydrates can actually be detrimental to their health, as outlined below. With this in mind, it would be as illogical to feed a carnivore a steady diet of meat-flavored cereals as it would be to feed meat to a vegetarian like a horse or a cow, right? So why are we continuing to feed our carnivores like herbivores? Why are we feeding such a species-inappropriate diet? The answers are simple. Grains are cheap. Dry food is convenient. Affordability and convenience sells. But is a carbohydrate-laden, plant-based, water-depleted dry food the best diet for our cats? Absolutely not. They are designed to eat meat – not grains." http://www.homevet.com/petcare/feedingyourcat.html

4/1/06 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BC: Do you know if dogs are pure carnivores too?

I wonder how vegan caregivers feed their animal companions - i have a vague recollection that there are vegan/veggie versions of animal foods available in the US - after reading bc's references on this blog, i wonder if those are healthy.

I have a friend who mainly feeds her cat with steamed de-boned fish - she makes a whole batch on a weekly basis and freezes it, and then microwaves serving size portions each day.

4/1/06 1:59 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

ANON,
Personally, though I'm vegetarian because of the cruelty involved in factory farming ( http://www.factoryfarm.org/ ) , I do not force my cats to go veg/vegan - it is just wrong, and a vet had said that feeding cats veg diets shortens their lives CONSIDERABLY - it is like forcing your rabbit or hamster to eat meat! Makes no sense.

I also spoke to Jane where she recounted this person who fed his/her cat a 'premium' veg diet (Artemis I believe), and was distressed to find the cat shedding fur liek crazy and becoming bald all over, and in general becoming miserable. The person switched to NB and before the second bag was finished, the cat was healthy, fluffy, confident and no longer a pathetic avowed meat-eater forced to eat pure veg stuff that can't provide it the nutrition it needs.

Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores. Their dietary requirements are different from cats. That is why there is a distinction between cat and dog food too, and cats should not be made to eat dog food and vice versa.

For dog-related info, one good place to start looking for info is this page (http://dogs.about.com/od/dietandnutrition/) from the http://dogs.about.com/ site. For a start, try these articles/resources from the page:
- http://www.dogs-and-diets.com/index.html
- Why Worry About Dog Food? http://dogs.about.com/od/dietandnutrition/f/dog_food_why.htm

bc

4/1/06 2:33 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you BC, but can you explain more on 'fillers'.

i am feeding my felines Avoderm and Pinnacle (dry) with Aristo Yi Hu and Solid Gold (wet). My 1st cat was on Science Diet but has since departed due to leukamia.

4/1/06 2:48 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Thanks for the thoughts on renal failure BC, and as BC says, good nutrition is very important. I agree with her though, that as her vet said, at the end of the day, we have no idea what causes renal failure. There have been cats that have been on 'good' food all their lives and STILL get it.

It's always great to have good nutrition, and important to feed your cats well because it makes them healthier, but one thing might just be that cats are living a lot longer than they used to. If you look at cancer or renal failure in cats, how many of us have cats that lived to the ages that they are living to right now?

A lot of cats with cancer or renal failure may well be a result of them living much longer then their predecessors used to. When I was younger, I remember cats of 5 or 6 being considered old - now it's common to hear of cats that are 11 or 12. In a way, better medical care and food makes them live longer, and when they get older, they get renal failure and other diseases of the kind. The body starts to just break down. It's the same with people.

It's equally important to keep your cats happy, minimise stress, and to ensure they have good medical treatment.

4/1/06 3:17 PM  
Anonymous bc said...

Mary,
The details can be found on the about cats website. But if you need more, you can try what I did: on Google, I used these keypwords "cat food", "fillers"

and retrieved the following:
http://searchwarp.com/swa17477.htm
http://www.ezinearticles.com/?Important-Nutritional-Information-on-Cat-Food&id=114626
http://www.articlecity.com/articles/pets_and_animals/article_295.shtml


Dawn,
Sorry that your blog entry has turned into a cat nutrition discussion. I agree with your thoughts, but am also very mindful about cat food now vis-a-vis the chinese saying "Huo Chong Kou Ru" which means disaster enters through the mouth.

I'd like to go back to my analogy about loved ones who smokes: there are also very senior smokers who are puffing away merrily while other, sometimes younger, smokers drop like flies around them, and non-smokers who die from lung cancers.

Good nutrition for us humans is paramount in our own self-interest, so we should view our cats' nutrition with the same seriousness. It's not a matter of what we can afford or think we want to get for our cats, but rather: what do our cats need?

Hopefully, these posts will help make more people aware and do right by their cats.

Thanks for the opportunity to 'spam' your blog. =)

bc

4/1/06 3:39 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I agree BC - good food is an important part of any cat's routine. However, it's not like smoking, which has been shown to be really damaging to you. For example, with renal failure we don't know for sure that food has that important a causal link. It's the same as cancer in people. It certainly doesn't hurt to eat healthily but there aren't any foods that can prevent cancer as far as I am aware of.

I just don't want people with companion animals to feel unnecessarily guilty because sometimes there isn't anything they could have done.

4/1/06 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks BC for that insight into dogs being omnivores - so that means, they could in principle survive on veggie food - someone i know used to feed their dog a diet of just milk and rice and he seemed to do fine on that diet - lots of fur, no shedding. perhaps he also killed insects and rats for extra food outside the home though?

BC's point about factory farming is well taken. But for vegetarians who are just opposed to killing in general (not just in factory farming), it is a bit more difficult to justify feeding dead animals to cats - why would it be ok to kill chicken so that a cat could live, for example? that is why in some ways, perhaps all animal life (even domesticated animals) in urban environments is sort of un-natural. Even in the most loving of homes, animals are essentially serving as a sort of companion to humans to satisfy their personal emotional needs, and that decision to hold an animal captive to satisfy a human need is sort of troubling sometimes. just like all zoos, even the nicest ones, are a bit troubling - animals "stored" in urban environments with fake forestry so that urbanites can conveniently gape at them from safe surroundings and get the thril of viewing wildlife.

5/1/06 2:32 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anon is right in that it is more difficult to justify if you're vegetarian. However, one way to look at it is that it's not for you, but for the cat. While you would not eat meat, it may not be fair to impose that on your cat either.

Someone I know who is a strict vegan tried to get his cats on a vegetarian diet. They just refused to eat.

5/1/06 9:13 AM  
Anonymous bc said...

Hi Dawn,
I agree with you. Perhaps the distinction between the 'inevitability' of a fatal condition like renal failure, which should not unnecessarily guilt-trip the conscientious care-giver, and the ongoing concern for nutrition, which should be an over-arching concern regardless, has not been made clear. I apologise for that.

It is too bad that evidence for renal failure is still,at best, anecdotal...

ANON,
Personally, I am a vegetarian opposed to senseless killing, and the unnecessary but very prevalent cruelty of breeding, suffering and killing inflicted on animals by humans.

Animals, who, in the natural course of their being, kill and eat other animals are only exhibting natural behaviour. I have no problems feeding meat to animals who eat it as a matter of course: Cats, dogs, birds etc. The day that these animals start seasoning their meat for taste, and hankering for exotic flesh, jsut for variety, or take up factory farming for convenience, like humans do, that is the day I will include the behaviour of carnivores to my "why I don't eat and don't support meat-eating" list.

For a person to be so opposed to life-taking that even feeding a cat meat is untenable, than it goes to reason that that person ought to terminate himself, since by living, he is also killing and causing death to countless other living organism - how about the tree, and the countless animals and insects that live in or rely on it in some way, that was felled to make the material he writes, blow his nose with or wipes his behind with?

Animals, especially domesticated/urbanised animals, were altered, in physical shape or traits, by humans long ago to serve our selfish needs. As people living today, we were not involved in the process, but we definitely live with the consequences. The idea of keeping a cat in the house is a dilemma I share with you... but the truth is also that we have changed the behaviour of some cats so much that they have come to depend on our generosity and good grace to survive.

Not all domesticated animals enlisted voluntarily, (eg the jungle fowl that ultimately became the broiler chicken of today), but in some cases, for eg, the dog and cat, the animals must have figured that they do get something out of consorting with the likes of Homo Sapiens. (Of course, to their eternal deteriment, they didn't read the fineprint and did not insist on an escape clause) In these cases, domestication is a paradox and a conundrum because it takes two hands to clap. But, as usual, I feel it is humans who have shortchanged the domesticated animals.

Zoos and aquariums though, are a different kettle of fish from domestication altogether. On this matter, the depth of human selfishness is exemplified by the display of elephants (confining a long-range roaming entity to standing on a stamp for ever), polar bears (who are made to swim and free-range over the Arctic, and instead end up eternally circling their equivalent of a toilet bowl, worst are the ones enduring tropical climates), the capture and confinment of dolphins (oceanic entities who have tight family ties and live in communities that contain 3 or more generations!)... the list goes on, Anon. Do I like zoos? Nope, not anymore. Zoos, imho, are about as bad as animal circuses.

bc

5/1/06 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought i posted a comment earlier - a really long (and good one too :p) about why domesticated animals in urban environments present a philosophical problem but the post didn't make it - perhaps i just forgot to send before closing the window! Oh well. Just as well i guess.

but those are good points, BC and Dawn. But the general concern about the roles of domesticated animals in highly urbanized environments continues to be very tricky and not resolvable easily. The situation is not that different really from zoos/aquaria (or at a stretch, even circuses) (or even domestic helpers from very poor countries serving as paid members of the family in richer countries - unarguably they are better off materially in the alien environment than they would be at home) - but still something seems amiss.

5/1/06 2:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anoymous you're right, they're tough questions. I think it's great though that everyone is thinking about it at least.

5/1/06 6:12 PM  

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