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Cats and Science

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There’s a stray cat near your house. As you try to approach the seemingly underfed cat, it hisses and retreats. There’s cat food in the garage, and almost instinctively, you set out a bowl for the cat. Why wouldn’t you? Feeding a starving animal seems like the right thing to do. You based your actions on morals, Whereas basing policy on science seems like an obvious choice, looking further into the issue can cause one to reevaluate. Science often gets thrown into debates surrounding controversial issues.
You fed the cat. But within a few days, more cats have shown up your doorstep. According to the Humane Society, feral cats travel in “colonies”. Cats who remain stray are likely to join these feral cat colonies, which are essentially herds of homeless cats Feeding one cat opens the door to feeding all of these cats, given that they travel to where they can find food. Even if you don’t mind having your own personal colony of cats, these cats are likely to have a negative effect on the world around them. Overpopulation becomes an issue as well. Only two percent of the 30 million community cats have been neutered. Overall, this becomes a vicious cycle, due to 80 percent of the kittens born in the U.S. each year come from these feral cats.
However, it’s not only stray cats that pose a threat to the wellbeing of the areas around them. Perhaps you’re more of a dog person, and you wouldn’t have bothered to feed a cat in the first place. When abandoned, dogs often become feral or free roaming. In certain areas, dogs are the most populated carnivore within the region and significantly wreak havoc within ecosystems. Other animals are often threatened by dogs, such as farmer’s sheep. Dog predation becomes a larger issue when abandoned dogs begin roaming within areas. Dogs account 91% of domestic sheep killings. They also impose a large threat on the general wildlife within the region. The survival of these feral dogs relies on damaging animal populations surrounding them.
At face value, it is often agreed upon that policy should be based upon science. Whereas science shouldn’t be discarded, we can see how doing what one perceives as the right thing can complicate today’s issues. How we allocate the power of morals and more personal values when making decisions can be hard to determine. Whether it’s stem cell research, or animal conservation, people’s own views obscure what should be done. Even if one knows the long term effects the cat may have on the environment surrounding it, feeding it simply feels like the right thing to do.
Let’s consider more pressing issues regarding animal welfare. Take for instance, animal testing. Whereas science supports multiple aspects of the debate, feelings and various sets of principles further complicate the issue. According to Pew Research Center, 47% of Americans favor the practice of animal testing, while 50% oppose it. We can see how the sentiment towards animals has greatly increased in more recent years, and this can be attributed to the increased value put on animals.
Arguably, morals have a place within policy. Science needs to be taken into consideration, but it’s still important to regard the feeling of the American public.
It’s important to see all aspects of an issue, including those that focus on values.

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