PETA has gone on record as being against people being allowed to keep companion animals, or pets. They feel it is unethical to put them in an environment which is so unnatural to them.

However, I take one look at my cats, and see how good of a life they have, and find this silly. My little brats are well-fed, happy, clean, and have quite the long life ahead of them, instead of 3 to 5 years as it is often on their own. In some ways, they are in charge. I don't have someone waiting on me, hand and foot, taking care of all my needs, giving me attention when I want it, getting me toys, and not expecting any work in return.

I know I still keep them locked up in my apartment, but I do it because, well, I can't let them out from where I'm living, and because I care about them so much and don't want to see anything happen. I do wish I could communicate with them enough to know what they'd prefer, but alas, that is impossible, at least on a level to discuss abstract ideas - we do communicate in some ways, as I sure know when they're hungry...

Cats are an interesting point to the comparison of pets to slavery.
How could one argue with outdoor cats as pets? They are not held against their will; they leave frequently and return according to their own choice.

As for other animals as pets like dogs, indoor cats, or monkeys, what makes it okay to keep them as pets but not okay to keep humans as pets?
Is it intelligence? Does that mean it is okay to keep stupid or retarded humans as pets?

I have no answer to these questions, this is one of those places where western society is a googol of contradictions.
I want my cats to be as perfectly pleased with their lots in life as any other cat lover does, so it's easy to have mixed feelings on this subject, but I can think of several arguments against the idea of keeping your pet cat outdoors, or even, in fact, allowing him outside at all:
Domesticated cats are not wild animals. When, as a pet owner, you assume complete responsibility for another life, it is your job to protect the length and quality of that life in the best way you can, for as long as it lasts. The average lifespan for an indoor cat is between 18 and 22 years. For a domestic cat that is kept outdoors: 10 to 14. Indoor cats are less frequently infested with fleas, ticks, and internal parasites. They are less often infected with hemobartonella, feline leukemia, feline infectious perotinitis, feline panleukopenia, feline immunodeficeincy virus, and rabies. (Most of which are contagious, all of which are life threatening, some of which have no cure.)
Indoor cats are less frequently killed or maimed by cars. They get into fewer catfights. They are less frequently harrassed by cat-hating neighbors and ill-tempered little children. Indoor cats almost never turn up with fly eggs, maggots, or botfly larvae boring into and eating their flesh where an injury has been previously sustained. (Outdoor cats, especially in the summer, suffer those charming situations commonly, most especially when they tend to fight with other outdoor cats over issues like food and territory.) Outdoor cats (and dogs) sometimes get stolen and sold to medical research facilities. They are exposed to insecticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that can be harmful or fatal when inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested. Outdoor cats sometimes freeze in the cold and suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke in the summer.
Certainly, some cats want to be outside. Certainly some cats enjoy the freedom of being able to roam about at their own discretion, and who can blame them for finding happiness in that? But there are those that say that unfortunately, what someone wants to do is not always what is best for them to do, and that as cat owners, it is our responsibility to make decisions like these for our felines. Many people feel that keeping your kitty indoors unless you can be outside to supervise him is the surest way to keep him safe. It's a part of taking the best care you can of him, just like neutering him, feeding him a balanced diet, changing his litter, making sure his vaccinations are up to date, etc.

"Does that mean its okay to keep retarded humans as pets?" Of course it does. What an excellent analogy!

Seriously, though, domestic dogs and domestic cats are not critters that were snagged out of the wild and put into a cage. They're not animals that ever roamed free in their own right, although that is a beautiful and romantic kind of concept. There was never any such thing as a pack of wild chihuahuas, or a nomadic group of chocolate-point himalayan cats out on the hunt. Certainly a case can be made against the entire concept and tradition of domestication, and therein, if I understand correctly, lies the impetus behind PETA's "Keeping Pets Is A Manipulation Of Nature" argument.

Certain animals have been with humans long enough that it could be said to be their natural environment. Human parasites (hmm... Stop, doctor! That tapeworm has rights too!) are the obvious example, but certain furry animals also fit the mold. Animals that have undergone evolutionary change that makes them more fit for an environment as a companion animal can be said to be in a natural environment when kept as pets; a similar argument can be extended to some food animals. Of course, if one accepts that humans have been messing with nature and that they shouldn't do that, animals that have adapted to associate with humans are aberrations. This raises the question of what to do with them, since a mass liberation (run free, little animals!) is is condemning those that aren't still suited for life in the wild and don't go back to their owners to death. Many of those that are suited for life in the wild (which may include life as a scavenger on the edge of human civilization) will have a short, unpleasant life. Is that worth increased freedom? Does it even give them increased freedom? It's too bad we can't talk to the animals to find out.

It could be argued that severely mentally or physically handicapped humans who are kept in institutions or homes that they are not able to leave of their own free will are kept in a state analogous to that of pets. Just like pets, they're (ideally) fed, groomed, and otherwise cared for in ways they are unable or perceived as being unable to care for themselves. Those who are kept in such facilities but are able to leave of their own free will could be compared to outdoor pets.

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