Are we cruel?

Ale

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
8,111
6,650
113
Many (currently, wild) cats are solitary though, or at least semi solitary, I don't like seeing cats locked in 24/7 either :D I do lock my cat in at night, my fault I raised her around dogs and she has no fear of them at all and will merrily go up and rub all over them, and we have lots of foxes out behind the house and they will kill cats especially very small friendly ones.

This is a really good thread, lots of thought evoking bits to it :)
On our course they teach us that really the majority of cats would be far happier kept alone. People get a second cat to keep the other one company but unless they are family they never really like each other. Like you say cats really are solitary. But then I'm sure lots of people would say actually their non related cats get on great and seem to enjoy each others company
 

Ale

Well-Known Member
Feb 8, 2012
8,111
6,650
113
Good thread. Thought provoking. I sit somewhere in the middle. Worth remembering too that "wild" does not mean kind. Some aspects of herd behavior can be cruel - albeit natural. Something has to be bottom of the pecking order, kicked, pushed away from food, bullied. The lame, sickly or old may not fare well. A wild herd life isn't lived on sunlit uplands of contentment.

As animal keepers we humans have the power to be aware, caring, and fair to our animals in good times and bad. The sadness is that we often aren't.
This is where I sit really too. I don't think domesticating animals is a bad thing because the wild isn't always kind to them and I see them as different species with different needs. They may not being kept exactly as they would live in the wild but I think they are happy and healthy in most conditions. I only think it's wrong when things are done to the extreme, like animals kept in tiny cages, horses never taken out of their boxes etc. There are arguments for both sides that we should and shouldn't keep domesticated pets. Really interesting to read all about it and hear everyone's input. Wish you were all in my uni classes, no one else seems interested!
 

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
50,916
10,779
113
50
On an island
On our course they teach us that really the majority of cats would be far happier kept alone. People get a second cat to keep the other one company but unless they are family they never really like each other. Like you say cats really are solitary. But then I'm sure lots of people would say actually their non related cats get on great and seem to enjoy each others company
My mothers cats do not get along at all and are house kitties that have their own "rooms" and only go into the big cat run individually. My resident feral family all get along, totally different scenario though.
 

Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
17,444
5,250
113
59
Surrey Hills
Great discussion, thanks for starting it, Ale! And I think the responses show this forum in a good light - mature sensible debate. Good stuff.

Personally I suppose horses are domesticated, like most creatures that live with humans. I exclude dogs because dogs, which have been with us so so long that they are genuinely symbiotic with us in many cases, and cats, who often appear to have domesticated humans rather than vice versa! Horses, like sheep and pigs and cows and chickens, are bred to live in captivity and to do what people want them to do. We create them to do our bidding. If that is cruel, then we're cruel.

But as Ale says, the wild isn't exactly kind, either. My friend Suzi, an equine chiropractor, tells me about some of her patients: elderly horses, long out of work due to some chronic condition or other, loved and cared for by their devoted owners: they live a comfortable life into old age and in the end have an easy passing, rather than the desperate and miserable end that a sick or lamed horse in the wild can expect.

I like it that nearly everyone on this forum agrees with the need for horses to be able to express natural behaviours - continuous movement, continuous grazing, socialising with company - and the preferability of keeping them with good turnout etc. I think that as a group we try our best not to be cruel.

What we do is culturally acceptable at present, and I'm glad, because I definitely get benefit from my horses!
 

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
6,621
3,309
113
Yorkshire
I've been thinking recently about some of the pets we have. Guinea pig, rabbits, hamsters etc. They are kept in cages. Someone mentioned battery hens but some of these other pets are kept in there small hutches. Some rabbits never get to scratch and dig in the grass like they do in the wild. They can run for miles. Is it cruel the fact that we keep them shut up in there tiny hutches.
I think it is, yes. But we had rabbits (classic, got two 'females' and ended up with 6 babies). Because I hate to think of such an active animal being confined to a little cage we rabbit-proofed our garden. Their hutches were those triangle ones that lived on the ground with an attached outside pen, but in the daytime we let them run loose in the garden and they went back in at night. They spent the whole time they were loose trying to escape and tunnel under the chicken wire fence that we'd put round the boundary. All that garden to play in, nibble the grass etc and they still wanted to be free. But if they had got free they would have been eaten by Mr Fox. So long story short, I wouldn't have rabbits as a pet again, too much guilt tripping, frustration and hard work!

As a species I think humans are cruel, because we are so selfish and think we have more right to the planet than any other species. We can't even get it right for ourselves, every time we solve one problem we create another.

I'm really not sure about whether it's cruel to keep horses how we do. Do they really think that much about what they'd like to be doing? I mean when Raf is munching on his net on a night is he wishing he was roaming around the fells in the cold and rain with a herd? The horses we fetched in from 24/7 turnout when the weather turned bad and they were stood in a wet field all seemed happy to be in, enjoyed their tea and all lay down for a sleep that night, probably the first time they'd been able to lay down for a while. And yes nature is very cruel. I can't bear to watch wildlife documentaries any more because of all the hunting and killing that they seem to focus on these days.
 
Last edited:

newforest

Living every little girls dream- stuff the adults!
Mar 15, 2008
26,261
9,638
113
A field
Is it? Domesticating animals is surely really only about them fitting around us. If they are domesticated and happy then is it a problem if they are very different from their wild counterparts?
I don't really think we should compare the domestic to the wild. We don't have a wild horse because try as we might to imitate it's natural conditions, for most of us they were born in captivity, move homes and we are trying to imitate.

Mine lives in a mixed herd, but she's entire and hormonal. So in theory am I cruel for ignoring her desire/need to reproduce. Trust me she sure does have that need!
In the wild the foal doesn't necessarily move on until 2 years. Does that mean owners will keep their foals for two years, no. Though mine did stay with mum for 2 years, she learnt to bully her and be a right little madam.
In the wild you have a stallion running with the herd, would the owners of mares want that no - unless he fired blanks then I would have it pretty close to the natural habitat. ;)

She's a bit indifferent when it comes to the herd. I could assume she doesn't care. She has on occasion been moved to a paddock with a few others. They went out and she didn't lift her head off the grass! I could have thought may as well keep you on your own then.
However on other occasions when we've all just moved grazing she's checking where they are and you can tell she wants to back to them, even though she may be a distance away, she knows they are there.

Someone mentioned cats. I do know that wild cats do not meow but domestic ones do. The domestic cat has learnt that we respond by giving them food.
In fact they may even run over, tail up and twitching to say hello human, then the meow feed me then!
 

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,934
11,000
113
38
Suffolk, UK
Someone mentioned cats. I do know that wild cats do not meow but domestic ones do. The domestic cat has learnt that we respond by giving them food.
In fact they may even run over, tail up and twitching to say hello human, then the meow feed me then!
Wild cats do use various vocal noises to communicate. My cat shouts at me all the time but not for food, she has always had adlib food in a dispenser so I very rarely give her food directly, she will yowl at me until I talk to her, then go on her way or she will do it if she has brought a kill for me.
 

newforest

Living every little girls dream- stuff the adults!
Mar 15, 2008
26,261
9,638
113
A field
Wild cats do use various vocal noises to communicate. My cat shouts at me all the time but not for food, she has always had adlib food in a dispenser so I very rarely give her food directly, she will yowl at me until I talk to her, then go on her way or she will do it if she has brought a kill for me.
Yes I am familiar with that guess what I got you sound.
 

Trewsers

Well-Known Member
Oct 13, 2004
50,916
10,779
113
50
On an island
Our mother feral makes a low menacing rumble / growl if she thinks her kittens are threatened or if you get too close to her. Never heard her mewl or meow. Kittens come rushing into the garage most mornings and make a funny sort of noise, like a not quite meow. They don't hiss or spit like her! (not yet anyway) None purr.
 

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
6,621
3,309
113
Yorkshire
I believe it's true what they say about domestic cats though - that if they were big enough they'd kill you. I think they only exist with us because we're useful to them and they can't actually kill us!

I just thought of something that I wonder about being very cruel with regards to horses - selling them on, swapping homes etc. My YO says horses aren't the same as dogs and don't care as long as they're getting fed, but I can't help thinking that to get into a box, get out somewhere completely unknown and be expected to get on with the humans, make friends with the herd etc with no idea of what has happened to your past life, can't be without trauma.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Russet

newforest

Living every little girls dream- stuff the adults!
Mar 15, 2008
26,261
9,638
113
A field
I believe it's true what they say about domestic cats though - that if they were big enough they'd kill you. I think they only exist with us because we're useful to them and they can't actually kill us!

I just thought of something that I wonder about being very cruel with regards to horses - selling them on, swapping homes etc. My YO says horses aren't the same as dogs and don't care as long as they're getting fed, but I can't help thinking that to get into a box, get out somewhere completely unknown and be expected to get on with the humans, make friends with the herd etc with no idea of what has happened to your past life, can't be without trauma.
I think they should do a scientific experiment doing just that.
I know they did something where they shut celebrities in a room without a clock to see how long they could occupy themselves without any human interaction.

If someone you don't know suddenly just turns up with a car and says forget this life, we have a new one for you, I agree it would be traumatic for us! However, horses don't have the brain power that we have. I am not saying they are thick, but the brain gets used to survive.
Turning a pony out with another will do for now because there is safety in numbers. I suspect the same could be said if we were sat in that car with someone else.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Trewsers

Jessey

Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
20,934
11,000
113
38
Suffolk, UK
I just thought of something that I wonder about being very cruel with regards to horses - selling them on, swapping homes etc. My YO says horses aren't the same as dogs and don't care as long as they're getting fed, but I can't help thinking that to get into a box, get out somewhere completely unknown and be expected to get on with the humans, make friends with the herd etc with no idea of what has happened to your past life, can't be without trauma.
I've got to agree, we talk about forming a bond with a new horse, how some combos the just don't 'click', that it takes them time to settle into a herd and how some pair bond so they must be capable of an emotional relationship, so it must cause them distress when they are suddenly without anything they know. For me that goes back to what I said before about defining what is cruel and what is acceptable stress, acceptance vs resignment, what is ok for one isn't nec ok for another.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Russet and Trewsers

Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
17,444
5,250
113
59
Surrey Hills
I just thought of something that I wonder about being very cruel with regards to horses - selling them on, swapping homes etc. My YO says horses aren't the same as dogs and don't care as long as they're getting fed, but I can't help thinking that to get into a box, get out somewhere completely unknown and be expected to get on with the humans, make friends with the herd etc with no idea of what has happened to your past life, can't be without trauma.
Horses are very social animals and it's been scientifically demonstrated that they form lasting relationships. So I think moving home must be very traumatic for them. There's no way to prove this, since they can't talk, but I remember Ziggy's distress when I'd had him about 18 months and we went down to the New Forest for a riding holiday. Once off the box after a 3 hour journey the friend I came with put him in a paddock while I checked us in and he didn't eat or drink, just hurried around looking wild. When he saw me coming he visibly relaxed, snorted, shook his mane and began to eat. He'd had 6 homes before he was 10 and I am sure he thought it had happened again.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Russet

Huggy

Well-Known Member
Nov 11, 2018
1,144
1,077
113
63
I believe it's true what they say about domestic cats though - that if they were big enough they'd kill you. I think they only exist with us because we're useful to them and they can't actually kill us!

I just thought of something that I wonder about being very cruel with regards to horses - selling them on, swapping homes etc. My YO says horses aren't the same as dogs and don't care as long as they're getting fed, but I can't help thinking that to get into a box, get out somewhere completely unknown and be expected to get on with the humans, make friends with the herd etc with no idea of what has happened to your past life, can't be without trauma.
I've wondered that too about horses. When I got Ramsey, he was a little unsettled for a week or so, not so Hogan - the second he got turned into the field, head down, munching - took about 10 minutes before he even looked at the other two over the fence, he seemed completely unfazed. However, I do tend to promise myself that when they come to me, that's it, they're stuck with me. Not always possible for people, I know, but I get ridiculously attached, ridiculously fast! :rolleyes:
 

newforest

Living every little girls dream- stuff the adults!
Mar 15, 2008
26,261
9,638
113
A field
I think in some circumstances the moment a person touches a horse, what follows is definately cruel.
Starving and beating a horse is defined as animal cruelty. There are far worse things a human is capable of beyond putting them in a stable.