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The State of the Cat

Last fall, leaders from the animal welfare, veterinary, and pet industries gathered in Denver to discuss how to improve the image and status of cats in our communities

Last fall, leaders from the animal welfare, veterinary, and pet industries gathered in Denver to discuss how to improve the image and status of cats in our communities

Since some shy kitties don’t cozy up to adopters who come to visit, shelters have to go the extra mile to make them appealing— with stylin’ patriotic blankets, for example. DUMB FRIENDS LEAGUE
In front of the Dumb Friends League—the Denver organization widely acknowledged as one of the most progressive animal shelters in the country—there is a small bronze statue celebrating the human-animal bond.

The sculpture is comprised of four figures: A little boy sitting cross-legged; a long-eared spaniel sitting behind him with his chin on the boy’s shoulder; a chubby pug in the boy’s lap. These three are all looking at a smaller figure: A cat, who sits facing the trio, regarding them as they regard her—part of the scene, but separate.

And there they sit, a silent but charming posse, welcoming locals coming into the League to check out the animals up for adoption or attend the shelter’s nationally known behavior training classes.

The statue is a lovely piece, a visual representation of the special bond between pets and children, and it matches the feeling of the Colorado shelter: welcoming, friendly, attentive to the needs of both people and pets.

Yet the positioning of the figures—boy and dogs together, cat apart—is also a perfect representation of a problem that the League and other animal advocates around the country have been struggling with for years: How is the relationship between people and cats different from that between people and dogs? And what harms come to cats because of those differences?

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