Animal Rights/viewpoint 1: How We Cruelly Lobotomise Cats

By Pizzichini, Lilian | New Statesman (1996), April 12, 2004 | Go to article overview

Animal Rights/viewpoint 1: How We Cruelly Lobotomise Cats


Pizzichini, Lilian, New Statesman (1996)


At the beginning of this month, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced it would not legislate to enforce the stunning of livestock before halal and kosher slaughter, despite recommendations from its advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council.

Thus what Montaigne called "man's impudence with regard to the beasts" continues. But those who do not eat halal or kosher meat should not feel self-righteous. Ritual slaughter is only one way in which we use animals for our convenience. Take cats. In neutering tom-cats and spaying bitches, we rob them of their most natural instincts. The result is a lobotomised ball of fluff that lives only to eat and sleep. One type of cat has been bred specifically because, being "even-tempered and docile", it is "a pleasure to own". The "ragdoll", all fur and eyes, with a weak spine and shaky legs, has had the life bred out of it. Its very vulnerability is a cartoonish projection of our own needs and anxieties. We confuse their dependency with love.

But if the animals we keep close to us are invested with emotions they don't feel, the animals that are used in research laboratories are denied any compassion for the torture that is inflicted on them for our sake. We know from experience that our pets respond to pleasure and pain, and yet we turn a blind eye to lab monkeys and the mechanised slaughter of factory farming. In the confines of her cramped sty, the pig, collapsing under her own weight--a weight imposed by drugs and insemination--remains invisible until she is ready for the slaughterer's blade. We treat animals like her, which are kept far from our view, as though they were automata. …

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