The War on Cats

CATS

The Link between Power, Control, and Cat Punchers

Law enforcement and social service providers now recongnize that when animals in a home are abused or neglected it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe and that children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming abusers themselves. Animal abuse, and other forms of family violence are acts that are linked. [1]

A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present. Violent offenders incarcerated in a maximum security prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets.[2] The abuse is often cyclical and inter-generational.”

The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services discovered that in homes where there was domestic violence or physical abuse of children, the incidence of animal cruelty was close to 90 percent

In his paper called, “Cruelty Toward Cats: Changing Perspectives,” Lockwood underscores the origin of abuse within the dynamics of power-and-control:
“Cats, are more commonly victims of abuse than dogs because dogs are, by their very nature, more obedient and eager to please, whereas cats are nearly impossible to control.”

Frame2

The Curious History of Cat Abuse part one

The earliest cat found buried in association with a human at a site in Cyprus were dated to approximately 7500 B.C. The grave suggested that the person was important and gave importance to the cat.

Around 450 B.C. Herodotus describes his visit to the temples in Bubastis and the various practices surrounding the cult, including the harsh penalties for injuring or killing cats (Clutton-Brock 1993,36)

It was illegal to export cats from Egypt was illegal, until the tenth century when cats began coming into Europe and Asia.(Zeuner 1963).

Christianity at that time was “extreme in suppressing unorthodox beliefs and because cats were often central to many of these belief systems, from the Eygptian cult of Bastet to the worship of the Norse goddess Freya, cats were demonized and associated with the non-Christian and the Devil. From a symbol of grace, fertility, and maternal care they were associated with sexuality and lasciviousness.” [2]

Pope Gregory IX (ruling 1227–1241) Decreed that the Cathars, known to breed black cats,were the devil in disguise. In 1489 Pope Innocent VIII proclaimed­­ edicts to persecute all witches and kill all cats within Christian lands.
Inquisitor Nicholas Remy, in his 1595 Daemonolatreiae libritres, wrote that all cats were demons (Conway 1998)Carnival celebrations of deviance came to an end on Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, when a live cat was incorporated into a straw mannequin, King of Carnival, and given a ritual trial and execution.

In Burgundy young men passed around a cat, tearing its fur to make it scream as a form of “rough music.”

For the cycle of Saint John the Baptist, coinciding with the summer solstice, cats were tied up in bags, suspended from ropes, or burned at the stake

Parisians liked to incinerate cats by the sackful, while the Courimauds (cour a miaud or cat chasers) of Saint Chamond preferred to chase a flaming cat through the streets. In parts of Burgundy and Lorraine they danced around a kind of burning May pole with a cat tied to it. In the Metz region they burned a dozen cats at a time in a basket on top of a bonfire. The ceremony took place with great pomp in Metz itself, until it was abolished in 1765. (83)

One of the best documented instances of cruelty to cats was the “Great Cat Massacre” of the Rue Saint-Severin, Paris, which took place in the late 1730s (Darnton 1984; Twitchell 1989). The story was obtained from an account by Nicolas Contat, a worker who had witnessed the event. Several young male printer’s apprentices systematically slaughtered all the neighborhood cats, starting with a favorite pet of their master’s wife. According to Twitchell: In fits of laughter they gleefully bashed the heads of cats,snapped the spines of cats, squashed the bodies of cats, twisted cats at the midsection,and suffocated cats. They even improvised a gallows and hung cats by the neck. (1989, 48)

Lockwood connects violence against cats and 18c economic powerlessness…

“Printer’s apprentices were among the most exploited workers of the time, while a passion for pet cats was growing among the bourgeois, particularly the masters of the printing trade. Portraits were painted of pampered cats who were fed choice fowl, while the boys in the print shops labored with little hope of promotion to the ranks of journeymen. Cat abuse was already well established in the culture of the time, thus cats were an easy and seemingly appropriate target for this outrage.” [2]

..to be continued

[1] http://www.americanhumane.org/interaction/support-the-bond/fact-sheets/understanding-the-link.html

[2] http://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=sota_2005

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