Dutch Cats Behaving Badly

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

kat_167928nEven as America is consumed with its health care reform debate – with the associated “Tea Party” mass-demonstrations in the nation’s capital, rants on Fox TV, etc. – rest assured that it’s not as if over here in Europe we’re living in some sort of public health paradise. Far from it, in fact, although at least the local press is willing to give problems the necessary public airing-out. Like De Volkskrant here in the Netherlands, for example, and its recent piece (credited to the Dutch national news agency ANP): “Half of all cats have behavioral problems.”

Really now – where does it end? You do your best to ensure a healthy and happy life for all your human family members, but then the inconvenient prospect pops up that the housecat may well be bonkers. Although it seems we have at least had canine psychiatric care covered here for a while now, at least according to one Sonja van Leeuwen quoted in the article, who states “. . . it is already quite normal to have your dog with behavioral problems treated, but for cats this is not really accepted yet.” Instead, too many cat-owners here (who among them own 3 million cats) still have to suffer from feline friends which become too aggressive, or which urinate inside the house as an expression of some problem they are trying to communicate. Or which expropriate the seat of the only family scooter and refuse to move from it.

Then again, perhaps Ms. Van Leeuwen has an interest in talking up the potential travails of cat-ownership, since she intends next year to start a new course in cat-behavior therapy, in cooperation with a local dog-training academy. If you’re interested, well, you’ll have to know Dutch, and then be ready to make yourself available over the year-and-a-half course – at Lelystad, in the relatively-new province of Flevoland – to attend a total of 43 lesson-days. You’ll get to know a lot about cats, of course, but you’ll also get some insights into human psychology as well since, as Ms. Van Leeuwen is at pains to note, “Many problems are caused or worsened by the owner.”

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