Title of Presentation

Session F: Trap, Snip, Repeat: Cat Overpopulation and Gendered Labour within a Feral Sterilisation Programme

Sub-theme

Practice

Keywords

Feral cats, Labour, Gender, Liquid Modernity

Start Date

12-10-2018 3:00 PM

End Date

12-10-2018 4:15 PM

Abstract

Cat overpopulation in Toronto is a serious problem. Small groups of volunteers from humane organisations, rescue groups and municipal animal services work in a variety of capacities to help mitigate the impact of litters produced by stray and feral cats. One such event is a trap/neuter/release programme, whereby caretakers who look after registered feral cat colonies capture individuals of breeding age for sterilisation and medical treatment in a once-monthly, evening-long marathon. Veterinary medical personnel (veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants) comprise the medical staff who provide treatment and perform the assembly-line surgeries.

The volunteers within the trap/neuter/release programme are predominately women, as are the medical personnel who perform and assist in surgeries. These women also participate pre- and post-operatively at the surgical session, and transport, recover, and release the cats back to their specific colonies. In addition, they fulfill a number of other volunteer roles that compose the greater coalition of volunteers within the programme.

This paper will employ a critical ethnographic methodology to explore the complex interplay of commodification and labour under liquid modernity. We will touch briefly on issues of consumer culture, accumulation, fetishisation and disposability, whilst illustrating the ‘benign neglect’ of companion animals, specifically stray and feral cats, living amongst us. These animals are not simply a by-product of late capitalism’s cruel indifference, but also comprise a pre-requisite for the system’s continuation.

The paper will explore the nuanced processes by which pink-collar labourers disproportionately share the burden of caring for animals that constitute the effluvia of liquid modern culture. This paper will employ an analytic framework informed by critical sociology and human–animal studies, and will conclude with a discussion of suggested interventions designed to address cat overpopulation within urban and rural environments.

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Oct 12th, 3:00 PM Oct 12th, 4:15 PM

Session F: Trap, Snip, Repeat: Cat Overpopulation and Gendered Labour within a Feral Sterilisation Programme

Cat overpopulation in Toronto is a serious problem. Small groups of volunteers from humane organisations, rescue groups and municipal animal services work in a variety of capacities to help mitigate the impact of litters produced by stray and feral cats. One such event is a trap/neuter/release programme, whereby caretakers who look after registered feral cat colonies capture individuals of breeding age for sterilisation and medical treatment in a once-monthly, evening-long marathon. Veterinary medical personnel (veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants) comprise the medical staff who provide treatment and perform the assembly-line surgeries.

The volunteers within the trap/neuter/release programme are predominately women, as are the medical personnel who perform and assist in surgeries. These women also participate pre- and post-operatively at the surgical session, and transport, recover, and release the cats back to their specific colonies. In addition, they fulfill a number of other volunteer roles that compose the greater coalition of volunteers within the programme.

This paper will employ a critical ethnographic methodology to explore the complex interplay of commodification and labour under liquid modernity. We will touch briefly on issues of consumer culture, accumulation, fetishisation and disposability, whilst illustrating the ‘benign neglect’ of companion animals, specifically stray and feral cats, living amongst us. These animals are not simply a by-product of late capitalism’s cruel indifference, but also comprise a pre-requisite for the system’s continuation.

The paper will explore the nuanced processes by which pink-collar labourers disproportionately share the burden of caring for animals that constitute the effluvia of liquid modern culture. This paper will employ an analytic framework informed by critical sociology and human–animal studies, and will conclude with a discussion of suggested interventions designed to address cat overpopulation within urban and rural environments.