People who have devoted their lives to caring for their cats are being faced with bills labeling them as incapable of providing proper care, and branding their beloved cats as “dangerous and unpredictable wild animals."
This is America, whose bill of rights grants us the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. My pursuit of happiness involves exercising the liberty to share my life with a serval.
Our current fight for freedom is taking place not on the shores of a foreign country, but here in the political arena.
What do Americans do when their cherished freedoms and ways of life are attacked? They fight. And they win.
I’m not a politically active person. Prior to getting a serval, my involvement in the democratic process involved listening to my co-workers talk politics as my eyes glazed over and brain cells slowly died of boredom. Later, I would coax those brain cells unlucky enough to have survived to regurgitate enough of what they had heard to allow me to make what might pass for an informed decision on the issues if I lived on an ice floe. Armed with this wealth of misinformation, I would punch my voting card’s lights out and happily forget about the whole stinking mess.
I really didn’t plan on changing my outlook on the legislative process, and I certainly had no idea that I would soon be writing a book with the word “politics” in the title. When I became interested in getting a serval, I was informed that they were banned in some states. I checked my state and county laws and found that there were no laws in my area forbidding servals. I could have one. End of story, or so I thought.
After I got Sirocco, I started spending more time reading posts on exotic cat message groups and I noticed an alarming trend. Anti-ownership legislation was being pushed in state after state across the country, including my neighboring state of Washington. People who had devoted their lives to caring for their cats were being faced with bills labeling them as incapable of providing proper care, and branding their beloved cats as “dangerous and unpredictable wild animals.”
These bills had passed in some states, with devastating results. They did not grant “grandfather” rights. They set down very stringent rules specifying the terms under which people might be allowed to keep their pets, and banned all future acquisition of these animals. Permits, mandatory spaying and neutering, Microchipping, caging, insurance, perimeter fencing, the keeping of firearms to kill the cat if it escaped, and special signs were just some of the various requirements simply to be allowed to keep what in many cases amounted to a housecat!
Happy and well cared for pets were being seized from their (formerly) lawful owners. At best these cats were relocated to sanctuaries where they could live out their lives in a pen without ever again seeing the people they had lived with and loved since kittenhood. At worst they were killed. Responsible owners would try to comply with the laws, only to find that the insurance they were required to carry in order to obtain a permit didn’t exist, or that they couldn’t afford to meet certain requirements of the new laws. Most exotic cat owners are not wealthy, and what extra money they do have is spent on the care of their cats. Some owners were moving out of state; others did not have the luxury of this option.
I wondered if Sirocco was even going to be legal by the end of his natural life. I was pondering the wisdom of ever getting a second exotic cat. What if they are outlawed, I wondered? I would have two cats to try to protect from the law and twice the heartache if I failed. I might never have gotten an exotic cat if I had known of this looming threat. When I got Sirocco, I simply thought that they were illegal in a few states but perfectly permissible elsewhere. There was no indication that this might change. A seed of concern was now planted in my stomach, but it still fell under the mental category of “remote threat.” After all, only a few states were currently considering ban bills. Oregon, as a fairly rural state, would probably be one of the last places to consider such a thing.
Wrong!! That seed suddenly transformed itself into a cactus as I opened my e-mail one busy morning to find a message that Oregon House Bill 3065 threatened to ban MY cat. I knew the minute I read the message that I was now going to have to become a political lobbyist for however long it took to kill this bill.
The timing was abysmal. I was working full time in a stressful position supervising an emergency dispatch center. I had recently been engaged as an expert witness in a nasty dog-bite lawsuit in Connecticut, and I was in the middle of researching and writing a long report for it. My phone was greeting incoming calls with static and I hadn’t had time to get it fixed. I’d promised to write a series of training articles for the Feline Conservation Federation. I was trying to find the time to apply for my USDA education permit. Sirocco had yanked my curtain rods out of the wall, leaving me with no curtains in my bedroom! I was behind on everything.
The thought of the time it would take to fight this bill, the consequences if I failed, and everything else that was fighting for my attention was overwhelming, and I found myself struggling to hold back tears. Every tear I shed quickly transformed itself into a torrent of anger.
This is America, whose bill of rights grants us the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. My pursuit of happiness involves exercising the liberty to share my life with a serval. Our current fight for freedom is taking place not on the shores of a foreign country, but here in the political arena.
What do Americans do when their cherished freedoms and ways of life are attacked? They fight. And they win. I bring you this website, and with it the promise that we will not back down. We will win the fight to protect our beloved cats. Oregon House Bill 3065 failed, and so will the others.
Return to previous page