Mudcat Café message #546379 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #38653   Message #546379
Posted By: SharonA
10-Sep-01 - 01:06 PM
Thread Name: BS: Cat's hunting habits
Subject: RE: BS: Cat's hunting habits
In answer to GUEST's point #2 (looking up the dictionary definition of torture"): According to the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, copyright 1973, "torture" is defined as follows:

"Noun: 1. the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure; 2(a). anguish of body or mind (agony); (b) something that causes agony or pain; 3. distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument (straining). Verb: 1. to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain; 2. to cause intense suffering to (torment); 3. to twist or wrench out of shape (distort, warp)"

Now, I think we can assume that a cat is not interested in punishing or coercing its prey, nor does it take sadistic pleasure (in the sense of "sexual perversion", one definition from Webster's) in playing with its prey before killing it. Is the cat being sadistic in the sense of "delighting in cruelty"? Well, one definition of "cruel" (from the same dictionary) is "devoid of humane feelings" and, of course, a cat can't be expected to have humane feelings since it is not human! So, in that sense, a cat is no more or less cruel than any other predatory non-human animal, and therefore is not engaging in torture.

Indeed, a cat does cause "intense suffering" to a prey animal that it uses to teach hunting skills to another predator before killing the prey, but I contend that such an action cannot be considered "torture" because it is not done with the intent to be cruel (the intent to be "disposed to inflict pain or suffering") to the prey. As has been pointed out, it is done from instinct and from training by the cat's mother who in turn acted out of instinct when she trained her offspring.

Let's look now at the definition of "abuse". One definition is "to put to a wrong or improper use", and some people do feel that it is not proper to keep a cat from following its predatory instincts. Books on cat behavior will tell you that if you keep a cat indoors, you must be prepared to compensate for the lack of prey to hunt by providing toys and spending time in interactive play with your cat, since the cat's play is actually an exercise of its hunting instinct. In fact, there are instructions within these books to the effect that you should allow your cat to catch and "kill" its toy occasionally, rather than constantly keep the toy at bay, in order to satisfy the cat's need to fulfill its urge. Otherwise, the cat will, in fact, become depressed and/or frustrated, resulting in unwanted behaviors such as indiscriminatory urination.

But to return to one of the definitions of "torture" ("distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or argument"): GUEST, you seem to be "distorting" the cat's instinct to hunt and kill prey to "mean" that it is wrong and undesirable, and should be prevented in all cases. Others have indicated that they disagree and that, in some cases, it is the cat's prey which is undesirable; yet you continue to "overrefine" the "argument" that the predatory behavior of animals is somehow a moral issue for humans. So who is doing the torturing here?