I love all cat lovers. Well, not quite, not the ones who hoard cats but perhaps they’re not true cat lovers anyway. The phrase “cat lover” always refers to domestic, stray and feral cats. It is quite narrow in its ambit. The trouble is that if cat lovers do not fully educate themselves about the wild cat species they will not have the opportunity to understand the crisis that humankind has created for them.
To many people, wild cats are pretty well unknown. They know the big cats like the tiger and the lion but they don’t know the small cats like the Bay cat or the African Golden. There are 36 different species of cat and many of them are endangered and the prognosis with respect to their survival going forward is very poor.
Cat lovers as a body of people are potentially very powerful. There are many millions of them in America, for example. They have a very strong voice if they want to use it. In Fiona Sunquist’s words they represent “a powerful constituency”. But they are too passive in their defence of the wild cat species. They are too focused on the cats that they live with. I would ask them to think wider and get involved with all cat species. It’s ironic that the domestic cat’s population is growing year-on-year while their wild cousins are in general rapidly decreasing in population size in parallel.
Collectively, cat lovers can help to solve the human-cat conflict and it is a conflict between humans and wild cats. This is because the wild cats often live in forests and the forests are being cut down for plantations of soya and palm oil. They are been cut down so mining can take place. They are being cut down so cattle can be raised in their place. Their home is being knocked down and humans need to figure out a way of living with nature; to live sustainably.
Sustainability is the only way to protect the wild cats together with a respect for them rather than an abuse of them. The abuse is endless. The persecution is almost limitless. It’s time to stop and conservation is ultimately in the hands of the politicians and the politicians are put there by citizens and amongst those citizens there are cat lovers. You can see where I’m going. Cat lovers should be more vocal about the conservation of the wild cat species and that starts with education. The more you know about them the more you realise they need our help. And once you study the wild cat species you also study conservation and when you study conservation you start to understand how the planet’s natural resources are being used and abused too much by humankind.
You don’t have to agree with me. Just agree with Sir David Attenborough because he would say exactly the same thing. He is enormously respected and he would argue there still time to turn things around but he would also say that the course that humankind has set itself will lead to catastrophe one day. That day maybe fifty, a hundred or 200 years time but it will come and it won’t only be a catastrophe for the wild cat species by humankind itself.