Monday, August 9, 2010



The subtitle of this blog, "Life in the Netherlands, With Cats," may seem a bit misleading, as so far I've written exactly two posts about our three fuzzbutts. Fear not, though--cats have not been forgotten. And today's post will be about cats, and their favorite toys prey items, mice. To be exact, my lab mice.

I moved Shadow and the Tweeb with me when I came to the Netherlands three years ago, and thankfully the biggest incident was the Tweeb peeing on her puppy pad about halfway through. For the most part, they adjusted to the change quite well, and for the most part, things are largely the same. When the Tweeb's renal failure progressed to the point that she needed a renal diet, we were able to get it from the vet, much as it is in the States. The pet stores here are smaller, but they still have the different supplies for cats and dogs and sometimes things for fish and small animals. For the most part the variety is the same, though I did have to import our Da Bird from the US.

There are, however, two major differences. First of all, cats are mostly indoor-outdoor here, which is encouraged by centuries of "just how it is" and some stupidly old-fashioned vets. Secondly, cats and dogs here are just cats and dogs, as opposed to stand-ins for children: when I lived in Philadelphia, there was one pet boutique across the street from where I lived that sold things like organic cat food and special dog cookies (seriously--these were shaped like flowers and had "icing"). The doggie clothes that were sold there outclassed my wardrobe. Granted, I was in grad school, so that's not saying much.

From this, an amateur anthropologist would assume that Americans are much better at anthromorophosizing animals than the Dutch. So then why is it that American standards of care for lab animals and livestock are so substandard in comparison to the Dutch animal welfare laws? Institutions in the US that do research on animals are required to adhere to IACUC guidelines, but they pale in severity in light of the restrictions that are placed upon lab minions here. You need to have taken and passed a national course in animal welfare and have a master's degree before you can even touch a mouse here.

It's not really a question of which side is better, or which side is more correct. It's more of a reflection of what each society values: personalization in the US, versus standardization in the Netherlands.

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