Someone wrote to me yesterday and mentioned that she hoped the whole dog attack thing didn't degenerate into a dogs versus cats argument. I told her that I do worry about the same thing, but I hope it won't happen.
I also don't happen to think it's about dogs versus cats - it's because the whole issue is about something larger, which is one of whether animals have a right to live in a society such as ours.
The difference I think also boils down to one of moral authority. The minute someone asks that an animal be killed in some circumstances, opens up ALL animals, cats, dogs, birds, monkeys etc, to the same fate.
Here's why - when you say that it is okay to kill in some circumstances (ie dog attacks, dogs being aggressive, the human population being put at risk) then should the same accusation be leveled at cats, then you are implicitly saying that you agree with the cats being killed as well. Do cats attack? Could cats ever conceivably be aggressive and attack? Yes if threatened or if the circumstances are such. During SARS, they were clearly accused of being a health risk.
If the thinking is that killing is okay under some circumstances, then you are saying that it is acceptable to kill the cats too. If you have asked for a dog to be killed/removed, then should your community cat be placed in a similar position of some complainant asking for it to be taken away for any of the reasons alleged, then you're going to have no moral authority to ask that the cats be spared. The same arguments that you have marshaled in asking for the dogs to be removed can be turned around and used to convict the very cats you are trying to save. The TC is just going to say to you, but the cats are a threat, just like the dogs - and if there is a child that got scratched for getting too close, you're going to have a hard time convincing the TC or the parents that your cat is not 'aggressive' and hence should be killed.
If people point to an increasing number of dog attacks/more dogs around, then I'll also point out that last year at CWS, I had the most number of 'cats attacking' complaints as well in my 6 years with them. One reason could well be that people don't quite know how to behave around the cats (and misread the behaviour), others that the cats are in situations where they for example are defending their kittens or themselves. One cat was just extremely territorial - and would attack people, dogs and even other cats. Maybe it's just that there are more instances where cats are coming into contact with people. The fortunate thing for these cats is that someone was there to look out for them, and they were given a reprieve.
Yes, we all know that unsterilised cats are caught and rounded up and killed. The question is do we agree with it? I don't believe any caregiver condones it - we know it happens, and we know that until the day every community cat has a caregiver, the killing is going to continue. We don't however actively support it or ask that it be done. (Thankfully with more caregivers, and more sterilisation, the number of cats killed last year I've heard anecdotally, dropped).
Would caregivers see a group of unsterilised cats and then ask for them to be killed? I doubt it. Surely you might point to the fact that cats are not posing a threat to other community cats. So what happens to the cat that does? I knew of a feeder last year who had a tom she couldn't trap and it was hurting very badly her community cats. I believed I blogged about the fact that she wanted to poison the tom cat. Would other cats that attack cats within the community also be weeded out and killed then?
Once we call for the killing of some animals (and obviously I'm not referring to euthanasia in the true sense of the term) then the floodgates are opened to the fact that all animals are then fair game. It's very hard to make a case that some animals should be spared if the circumstances really aren't that different.
On a side note, it seems that in the Jurong case at least, when I was speaking with one of the caregivers, that there is a dog feeder in the area. This may be why the dogs are in the area, and think it is their territory too.