Take a walk on the wild side….
In the news this month, two headlines have caught my attention.
The first is the news that a black panther caused panic in a French town when they were spotted prowling the rooftops. The panther was caught and taken into the care of The Animal Protection League.
The second story is also unsettling; that due to the demand for cheetahs in the exotic pet trade they may become extinct within the next two years, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
So many traits people misunderstand and struggle with when sharing their home with domesticated smaller cats; including territory marking with toileting and scratching, are behaviors that are used “in the wild” by cats (both big and small) to relay information to each other. If the behaviours are exhibited in a home, it can be considered a problem and plans are put in place to address the situation so that coexistence can be a little more harmonious.
Cats of all sizes are beautiful creatures and will always hold a fascination for a lot of people. But it has to be remembered; we’re still learning from the smaller felines about what makes them tick as a species, and we certainly haven’t perfected coexistence entirely yet despite them being considered domesticated for thousands of years.
The larger cats aren’t domesticated and, in my personal opinion, aren’t meant to live with humans unless there are extenuating circumstances. When people choose to take them on as a “pet” they are expecting a degree of behaviour modification that is likely to lead to a less than happy existence for the big cat in question.
The quote by Fernand May feels fitting to finish this blog: “God made the cat so that man might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.” We don’t need to share our homes with every animal to appreciate the beauty of their existence. And living with any animal means taking into account their needs as well as our own. With some, that’s simply not a feasible option.