I was looking through Facebook comments yesterday, and hiding among shoutouts and shared pictures was this:
“Hey there, Cat Daddy! I’m a huge fan of the color purple, just like you. So when I was thinking about dyeing my cat’s hair, that seemed to be the logical color to choose. What do you think?”
I took a deep breath and gathered the contents of the Pandora’s Box that this unsuspecting person just scattered all over the floor. There’s no way he or she could know how loaded the subject is. How could they know that every time I see a hot pink Persian in an Instagram pic, or a neon green poodle in the park, I immediately turn into some angry cartoon, fists clenched and steam shooting out of my ears?
There is no room for logic in my response, just gut: I’d humbly like to think that my job is based around advocacy and empathy: around being an animal ambassador. As such, this simple act of “ fashion” sets off some serious alarm bells.
Now, I love purple plenty, you’re absolutely right. That said, whether or not you think your cat would look better in purple is completely beside the point. The first question you have to ask yourself is, Am I doing this for them or me? In other words, if your cat had a vote in the matter, would they likely say, Yes, how did you know? I want to be purple more than anything in the world! or, You want to what? Hell, no—I like me just fine the color I was born.
As the aforementioned humble ambassador, I’d have to say that, by and large, the answer would be the latter—with exceptions, of course. But that illustrates my point even more: the one sure way to deny one’s individual Mojo is by forcing your own preferences on them.
Imagine if, as a young child, your mom made you dress up in some silly Buster Brown sailor outfit for a family barbecue, just because she thought you looked “cute” in it (something that, in some variation or another, many of you can relate to). I’m sure you would be wishing your voice were a little louder in such a scenario. And now, years later, as a cat guardian, it’s your turn to play the parental role: will you respect their wishes or impose your will?
You might be thinking I’m making too big of a deal out of this, and maybe you’re right. But to
me, this is a symptom of a larger issue—ownership vs guardianship. Is your cat someone you parent, or something that serves you as a fashion accessory or personal exclamation point? Simply put, seeing these rainbow-colored cats or dogs demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for the animal.
It’s my hope, dear question-asker, that you would choose guardian or parent over “owner” when asked what your role is in your animal companion’s life. If that is your choice, then—just as we would ask with our human children—What’s best for my cat? should always be the first and last question, and not, Should my cat be purple, pink, or both?