I was listening to an Irish radio station, recently, and it had a piece about a job that was on offer involving nothing other than cuddling cats. I shit you not, cuddling cats. The idea was that, after surgery, the felines need some human contact to reassure them. The clinic that was seeking a potential cat-hugger was prepared to pay a wage to someone to sit and stroke cats all day.
I have also noticed photos on social media, in which pampered pets are being adorned in finery and carried around on display by their owners. This has prompted me to look at the entire approach of people in our societies towards both pets and, as a consequence, the children in society who suffer.
Let me state, before I begin, that I am an animal lover in that I do not like to see animals suffer in any way. Although I don’t much warm to cats, I do enjoy dogs, and had a black Labrador as a friend when a boy. He was loyal, obedient and intelligent, and it broke my teenage heart when he died. Shit happens.
But I do not believe myself blind to how our societies are, today. Nor am I fooled by the trends and fleeting crap that winds and weaves its way through our ofttimes vacuous lives.
(Aww, how cute, I hear you say)
As pretty as they appear, they are not inexpensive to look after, at least not in the way that many pet owners chose, today.
This product costs £10 at Tesco, the leading UK supermarket.
This one costs £30…
£10 today is the equivalent of 13 US Dollars. 50 USD would be enough to feed a schoolgirl for an entire year in some developing nations. Mere cents will buy a nutritious supplement for a starving child.
There may be as many as 2.5 billion people who survive, barely, on less than what 2 USD would buy in the US. Yet pet owners, who are affectionate towards animals, will gladly spend 20, 30, 50 USD on premium food brands for their dogs and cats. They will fork out large sums to provide fancy beds and kennels and lodgings. They adorn their pets in jewels, and carry them as an accessory and wrap them in costly quilts.
Yes, it might seem like the thing to do, pamper your pet. But if the money you spent on high-priced food, and luxury toys and baskets, was instead going to be used to prevent this:
Wouldn’t you be happier?
What about an expense such as this?
(They’re such good friends, of course)
Yet, if the crazy money that is spent on such furniture could be used to feed children in a developing nation, if you could prevent a child from suffering the painful pangs of hunger that would leave her like this:
What do you think you should do?
Can you justify the expense for these?
Or would you rather be responsible for this:
Or perhaps this:
… and these:
And this little beauty:
(Still sad, but alive)
And Pierre? Is that smile worth changing your mind for?
And Marilyn, trying hard to be happy, but still uncertain.
You see folks, our priorities can so easily become skewed. We can get swept up in the consumerist shite that is pumped into our homes and our heads. We can be infected with apathy, injected by the corporations that bleed them to feed us with drivel and swill as their adverts kill our humanity. They smother and choke and provoke us into the spend. But not where it needs to be. And where will it end?
– Angels come in many forms –
Basic human rights often denied to the most vulnerable of our species. A few pounds, some dollars, a smattering of Euros can see to it that children who starve do not starve.
(they are the best among us and yet they are too often ignored)
So perhaps the next time you see someone – or perhaps that someone is you – who is spending their hard-earned money on their pets as an extravagance, you can spare a thought, and a few quid, for our children.
It’s not much to us. But it’s one hell of a lot to them…