Katzen-Kameras Are Not Only Cruel and Inhumane but Represent an Assault Upon Cats' Liberties and Privacy
"One of the problems of taking things apart and seeing how they work -- supposing you're trying to find out how a cat works -- you take that cat apart to see how it works, what you've got in your hands is a non-working cat. That cat wasn't a sort of clunky mechanism that was susceptible to our available tools of analysis."
-- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
On June 3rd, famed cartoonist Peter Gallagher provided his millions of loyal readers with a sneak peek into the nocturnal perambulations of his famous feline, Heathcliff. The ebullient cat about town is shown enjoying a bottle of milk and a few yuks with his cronies, duking it out with a trio of canines, ripping off a fish and being chased by the peelers, raiding the garbage, and doing a little romancing. When he arrives back home the following morning tired and sleepy, Nutmeg, his caretaker, unwittingly asks him, "Another dull night?"
Throughout the millenniums many people have speculated about the secret lives of cats but since trailing them has never been really feasible, their activities have remained primarily conjecture. That is about to change with the introduction of what is being billed as the world's first Katzen-Kamera.
Curious about both the diurnal and nocturnal rambles of his resident feline, Kater Lee, transplanted German engineer Juergen Perthold of Anderson, South Carolina has built a mini-camera that when fitted around his cat's neck snaps a photograph every minute. (See top photo.)
The camera is approximately 38 x 60 x 22 millimeters in size and weighs thirty-five grams. The battery weighs an additional thirty-five grams and has a life span of forty-eight hours before it needs to be recharged.
Although it is patently cruel and inhumane, not to mention nosey, to force a cat to lug around a camera, Perthold is unconcerned. "Mr. Lee ist eine ziemlich grosse Katze, deswegen bereitet es ihm keine Probleme," he told Der Spiegel on June 5th. (See "Kater Lee fotografiert seine Welt.")
In spite of his ability to carry the excess baggage, Perthold does admit that his cat is not exactly thrilled about it. "Nur beim Anlegen der Kamera macht er etwas Aufstand, danach akzeptierte er sie." That is not exactly true in that Kater Lee tolerates the encumbrance only because he has so far been unable to get shed of it.
Kater Lee's predicament is especially tragic in that his previous caretakers moved away and abandoned him. Perthold, who took possession of him when he rented their house, originally made the mistake of thinking that he was a female and named him Miss Lisa. It is not known for certain how old Kater Lee is, but he is thought to be between two and three years of age.
Although Perthold has stated, "Ich wollte herausfinden, was er tut, wo er den Tag uber ist," his work also has been inspired by the love of money. He is not only peddling his kitty-cams for $30 apiece but he is also begging for handouts on his web site. Like the pursuit of power, the love of money can never be sated.
So, what has Perthold learned about Kater Lee's exploits that he could not have already guessed? Not much so far. In fact, his pursuits pretty much mirror those that Gallagher imagined for his fictional Heathcliff.
Specifically, he hangs out with other cats underneath parked cars and watches the world go by from a secure distance. (See photo above.) He also encounters still more of his cousins in the fields. (See photo above of a gray cat.) Even when none of his fellow felines are around there is always plenty of wildlife for him to observe. (See photo above of a blue snake.)
Not surprisingly, a disproportionate amount of his time and energy is spent in the service of the great god Eros. In particular, there is a good-looking red-colored cat in his neighborhood that has attracted his fancy. (See photo below.) Malheureusement, he has a rival for her affections in the form of a black and white tomcat (See bottom photo) who also may be responsible for some of the cuts that Perthold has seen on his cat's face upon his return from his nightly adventures.
In addition to being poids mort and adding absolutely nothing to the existing body of knowledge about cats, Katzen-Kameras do not in any way enhance feline safety. They are totally worthless against the machinations of thieves, motorists, predators, and ailurophobes.
More alarmingly, this new technology sooner or later will be appropriated by bird and wildlife proponents in order to collect evidence against cats. These latter-day Hitlerites already have demonstrated by their past actions that they will stop at absolutely nothing in their quest to vanquish all cats from the face of the earth.
On the more mundane level, cameras are a needless and unwarranted infringement upon both the liberties and privacy of cats. Photographing, tagging, and other types of surveillance ultimately will lead only to their detriment. (See Cat Defender post of May 4, 2006 entitled, "Scientific Community's Use of High-Tech Surveillance Is Aimed at Subjugating, Not Saving, the Animals.")
Cats should neither be exploited by the business community nor subjected to the capriciousness of mad scientists on ego trips. They instead should be valued for the exquisite creatures that they are and their liberties and privacy protected.
If the comments posted on Perthold's web site are anything to go by, the public has gone gaga over his cameras in much the same fashion that patrons of Checkers fell hook, line, and sinker for its cat-in-a-bag promotion. (See Cat Defender post of March 16, 2007 entitled "Hamburger Giant Checkers Faces Threat of Legal Action as the Result of Its Cat-in-a-Bag Promotion.")
Just as cats do not belong in bags, they certainly do not need surveillance cameras dangling from their necks. In addition to the stress and inconvenience that they cause, they also could be injurious to their health.
Subjugated and manipulated, a cat becomes a mere caricature of its former self. Perhaps this is what Douglas Adams had in mind when he wrote in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: "One of the problems of taking things apart and seeing how they work -- supposing you're trying to find out how a cat works -- you take that cat apart to see how it works, what you've got in your hands is a non-working cat. That cat wasn't a sort of clunky mechanism that was susceptible to our available tools of analysis."
Photos: Juergen Perthold.