March 30, 2014

Do cats have generational differences?

Cats these days seem more bratty and dependent than I remember growing up. And more housebound and supervised by their caretakers — perhaps the cause of the greater brattiness and dependency, a la the children of helicopter parents? Just as there has been a huge change in parenting styles over the past 25 years, so has there been with pet-caring styles, and in the same direction.

I'm inclined to rule out genetic change, not on principle, only because the change has been so sudden.

Fortunately, cats are less obedient than children toward over-protective owners, so they still get out a good bit. But it still feels like they have a weaker public presence than they did in the '80s. One of our cats used to flop down into a deep sleep right on the sidewalk out front. Once he even got accidentally picked up by animal control because they thought he'd been hit by a car and was laying dead on the curb. Another cat used to climb trees and walk over our first-story roof.

Come to think of it, it's been awhile since I recall seeing the "cat stuck up in a tree" in real life or pop culture. Last I remember was having to climb up a tree and dislodge our cat who liked to run up there, at least until the birds began dive-bombing him. That was the mid-to-late 1990s.

I'm not sure how to investigate this idea quantitatively, but it would be worth looking into by animal psychologists. There may be surveys of pet-owners over time about whether their cat is an indoor or outdoor cat.

11 comments:

  1. When I was a kid we used to let our cats and dogs outside to run wild. They always came back, the cats usually with a live mouse to show us.

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  2. one way you might be able to check it would be to look up data on the rate of cats being neutered or spayed.

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  3. or, the rate at which cats have been getting de-clawed(not sure what the official name of that surgery is)

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  4. article in the Atlantic about what caused the crime rate to rise(they argue "abandonmenet", police abandoning disadvantaged communities)

    "So what about those stories? The simple version is that the NYPD adopted order-maintenance policing, including stop-and-frisk, and crime went down. But the increase in frisks and arrests didn’t predate the drop in crime; it came after the drop in crime. If we widen our perspective, we see that the crime drop in New York City, particularly for property offense, began long before 1990."

    "Abandonment. The historical evidence ignored by stop-and-frisk proponents also describes widespread changes in police practices across the country. In the years leading up to and during the crime wave, police effectively abandoned disadvantaged communities, prompting critical commentary like Public Enemy’s chart-topping rap song “911’s a Joke.” Read the first-hand accounts by police from that period, or the descriptions in historical accounts by Bill Stuntz and Randall Kennedy, and you will come away with a detailed account of how we failed to protect law-abiding citizens in historically disadvantaged communities throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s."

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/stop-and-frisk-didnt-make-new-york-safer/359666/



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  5. Firemen have certainly abandoned the practice of retrieving cats from trees. My mother once called the fire department, asking them to rescue a cat out on a limb. "We don't do that," the fire dispatcher answered. "Why not?" my mother asked. "Let me ask you this," the dispatcher said, "When was the last time you saw a cat skeleton in a tree?"

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  6. I love your blog, but this post reads like an absolutely spot-on self-parody. Wish it had been published April 1st.

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  7. More tongue-in-cheek and sincere than a parody. You think no one would notice how stereotypically like a cat person this title sounds?

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  8. " love your blog, but this post reads like an absolutely spot-on self-parody. Wish it had been published April 1st."

    Its perfectly reasonable. animals inherit neuroses from their owners, and anyone who's around pets can see that they can be bratty.

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  9. The anonymous guy above3/31/14, 1:01 PM

    Absolutely - parody was probably the wrong word. It's more a very concise microcosm of the blog's general thought pattern, which I like. You don't hide the procedures behind your observations.

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  10. Pop goes the weasel

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  11. Fewer indoor-outdoor cats in urban and suburban areas, more people keeping them indoors. That affects the cats' personalities, and hides some of the more interesting ones from you.

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