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+1 vote
ive been thinking about getting pet rats, because i like rats and am lonely.  but i find something about the idea of pets rather unsettling.  if i want to think of the interactions as a relationship, and i do, it seems rather brutal and manipulative to start that with a cage and just hope that stockholm syndrome kicks in before mental obliteration.  of course i wouldnt be being wantonly cruel, although try to tell the rat that, and would be genuinely interested in the rats wellbeing, but i just go to the analogy of kidnapping someone and then keeping them in a cage until they became you friend.  of course its different because a rat can only bite you, whereas humans are quite good at fucking you over when pissed, but somehow that doesnt actually make be feel better about keeping rats in any way.  id probably be more comfortable if they were a baby rat, but saying that sounds just as fucked up, if not way way more so, and leads this conversation about pets and power unnervingly close to the topic of children.

i think i have decided i will just not pay for rats, so at least im not encouraging treating rats as commodities.  so ill take them in if i know anyone who needs to get rid of rat babies, as rare as that might be.  i dont know.  am i (just) a crazy person?  what are your thoughts?
by (2.1k points)
if you're crazy, this question doesn't demonstrate it.

your solution seems entirely sound to me. we are all subject to fucked up power dynamics, not just animals, but rejecting commodification is a sound foundation.

in my area there are also so-called humane societies, which take in what they consider to be adoptable pets (as well as pounds, for the less-marketable ones), and they get all kinds of domesticated animals, including rats presumably, so you could check to see if there's something like that in your area.
@funky yeah i was thinking rats because in my tiny little falltogether house a dog would not be practical, and cats still freak me out a little, though im getting better.  i have to admit that the rodent/pest image is one of the thing that attracts me to rats.  i like to think of rats in cities as a daemonized minority.  theyre certainly not my least favourite group of individuals that call the concrete streets home.  though theyre -understandable- tendency to bite does keep me away from wild ones.  not many rats down here where im at though, at least that ive noticed.

saying that these past few days i was thinking of taking my savings and hitching up the east coast of new zealand from public library to public library.  maybe in the summer anywho.  adopting a dog that can keep up with me would make more sense than a rat.  plus a dog can carry they own food/water.
sky - dogs can be excellent traveling companions, in my experience. i've picked up many a hitcher with dogs. i also remember a guy i met when i was living on the road in an old van, who lived on the road in his station wagon with a cat. that cat was way cool, too.
Please think of the birds and other small animals concerning a cat. Cats are genocidal bird and mammal killing maniacs. They kill more birds than people do. You should raise a bird or a duck because they'll imprint on you and then you'll have a bird friend that'll go wherever you go and land on your shoulder when out and about. I had a rat but it died. I think travelling is what did it in so if you travel a lot don't get a rat cause it stresses them.

"Cats are genocidal bird and mammal killing maniacs. "

seriously? genocidal maniacs?

cats are hunters. so are dogs. my cat friends have gotten maybe 4 or 5 birds over the years (and many, many more mice). my dog friends have gotten at least that many, as well as a rabbit almost every day. birds can fly, cats and dogs cannot - typically when i've seen a cat or dog get a bird, it is because the bird was already injured or sick.

wind turbines, airplanes and high windows kill far more birds than cats ever could.

i have known many people who have cats in rural areas, and put collars on them with bells, to warn birds. somehow, they seem to ignore the fact that those bells let every critter know where the cat is - including predators. many/most of them have lost their cat friends to bobcats or mountain lions - or even owls. yes, the wild fights back!

i have no issue with folks having preferences for certain species over others, that makes sense to me. but that does not make non-preferred species "genocidal maniacs".

[i haven't even had feline friends in like 15 years, but i still find them awesome.]

Yes, genocidal bird killing maniacs. Cats kill around 4 billion birds a year and more small mammals. Wind turbines kill like a few hundred thousand. Airplanes much less than that like 10,000 a year at most. Clearing the airport area by shooting the bird kill more than airplanes. Windows kill like a billion a year. Cars like a hundred million. If you add them up cats are still the champion bird killer.

Cats are such patient little critters and ninjas when it comes to catching and killing a bird or other animal. When a ninja cat kills a bird, they usually don't kill it right away because there's no fun in that. They stun it then play with it and kill it. The already injured bird's injury was probably because your cat injured it. There are bunches of videos on youtube of ninja cats catching birds. Here's a video of a cat catching a flying bird it's kind of like the bird has been watching too many movies and doesn't realize it can go right, left, or up, similar to how people in movies run in a straight line when being chased by a car vroom.
[edited for clarity and tone]

zubaz, look, i know how good cats are at hunting, i'm surely not denying that. but if saving birds is a priority for you, why not focus on the cell and radio towers that kill twice as many birds as cats do? those towers also have hugely detrimental impact on many other forms of life, including humans. cats are just doing what (by any measure i can come up with) comes naturally to them.

but whatever. we all have our own priorities, and obviously there are massive differences in how we prioritize the issues we face in this fucked up world.
i have removed two comments that were irrelevant and/or repetitive. if someone wants to ask a question about predation of domesticated animals vs other kinds of decimation of wildlife, feel free.

or perhaps someone will ask a question about the relationship of animal liberation to anarchist thought.
"...the relationship of animal liberation to anarchist thought"

that would be a great question, imo. if nobody else asks that, eventually i might give it a shot.

1 Answer

+2 votes
i understand your ambivalence, skyline. the way most people seem to use the term "pets", i find abhorrent. "pet owner" - yuck!

yet i have found very fulfilling personal relationships with a few cats and dogs, over the years. i found those relations to be more enjoyable than most human relations i have. especially the dogs, who were actually feral, and have retained most of their wilder instincts (even though they are pretty domesticated at this point).

shit, i even had a decent (if somewhat less affectionate) relationship with a family of rattlesnakes that lived under my trailer one year. but having grown up in new york city in the 60s and 70s, rats (and roaches) are not critters i personally would choose as a companion. :-)

edit: i would add that it took me some time to find a workable balance in my relationships with dogs (in particular), given my desires for anarchic relations. i never thought of dogs as property, or any less of a freedom loving individual than myself. but there were times when i had to let them know that certain behavior was not acceptable to me, and to do that required getting a bit harsh with them. no different, really from doing the same with a human - sans the straightforward verbal understanding. and they (dogs) will do the same to me if i act in some unacceptable way to them.
by (13.4k points)
edited by
one more thought on this, related to my anarchic desires:

when i finally settled for a while in rural southern oregon, i took the 2 cats that i had shared with my ex-wife for years; to give both her and the cats some additional freedom. they had always been indoor cats in the city. the first night, i had to decide whether to let the cats be free to go outside at night (lots of predator critters in that area), or keep them "safe" inside. after much deliberation, and trying my best to determine what they wanted, i chose to let them be free.

the shy one stayed inside with me, but the other one (who was really more like a dog than a cat, in many ways) stayed out. in the middle of the night, i heard a brief commotion and a massive screeching cry underneath the little cabin i was in. i was sure he had been gotten by a bobcat. i could not see anything underneath, due to the ground being very uneven. and there was no more sound or any response to my calls.  i mourned, and figured in the morning i would crawl under to find out for sure.

at first light, he came trotting in for breakfast, with just a small cut by one of his ears. he had gotten into a fight with a local feral cat, and chased it away. (when i saw his cut, i swore his look said, "you should have seen the other guy").

he was always an outdoor cat after that. he would go hiking with me in the woods; talk to cars and people that went by, he was like the "mayor" of our little country road. very cool cat.
i would love a cat that follows me into the woods like my dog friend
very much an aside, but while i'm thinking about that cat (his name was tex):

one of the most beautiful memories of my life was watching tex walk out to the road when there was a mama deer and her 2 young'uns feeding close by. the mama sent her babies further up the road, then walked slowly towards tex. he edged closer to her, and she dipped her head down while he lifted his up, and they virtually touched noses, sniffing each other out. then she casually turned and slowly walked up the road towards her kids, and tex came back to where i was standing. if my partner hadn't seen it with me, i might think it was a dream.
thats a pretty fucking magical aside.