AP Poll Bias ... Against Cats

On the deceptively simple topic of pets, the mainstream media has a hard time getting it right. Exhibit A: The Associated Press has joined forces with Petside, the web presence of the pet-food giant IAMS, to produce idiotic polls, the results of which are disseminated as news on the AP wire. Except these "polls," and the articles they spawn, are not really news -- they're examples of really shoddy, biased reporting.

According to the latest poll, 74 percent of people like dogs a lot, and only 41 percent like cats a lot. What's more, the "poll" tells us, "fifteen percent of the adults questioned said they disliked cats a lot while the number who said they disliked dogs a lot was just 2 percent."

It's not clear what AP-Petside means by "a lot." Where did they find these people? Because according to the Humane Society of the United States, which compiled data from the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association, there are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States and 93.6 million owned cats. Thirty-three percent of U.S. households own at least one cat. Surely those millions of owned cats are liked at least a little, or they wouldn't be owned?

Another proof of just how much Americans love cats is the huge amount of cat litter sold in the United States. In ancient Egypt, cats were deified because they guarded precious granaries against marauding rodents; today, millions of ailurophiles (the ten-dollar word for cat lovers) give daily offerings to the divine feline by spilling tons of grain -- in the form of corn or wheat cat litter!

What MSM outlets rarely consider is the sad plight of animals in shelters across our country. Fanning the flames of cat-hating is such a tired story. But the MSM apparently has no shame in spreading such damaging non-news, even with literally millions of sweet, loving cats behind bars at animal shelters across this country, creatures with already-slim chances of being adopted into forever homes due to the economic crisis. "Reporting" like this comes across as an acceptable form of bias -- except, conveniently, cats can't speak up and complain about being victims of media prejudice. But the AP-Petside poll really steps in doo-doo with this "analysis" of its "findings":

Those most likely to dislike cats were blacks, Hispanics and married men. Men were a bit more likely than women to say they disliked cats.

Debi Romano, who runs the non-profit Save Kitty Foundation, is working on the humane removal of hundreds of stray cats that settled into crawl spaces at Ravenswood, a 31-building complex in New York City. The New York City Housing Authority wanted to seal up the crawl spaces, which would have trapped helpless kittens alive; Romano rightly believes that trap-neuter-return -- collecting the cats in cages, then having them surgically sterilized and returning them to live in feral colonies -- is the only effective way to cut down on the cat population. She's applied for a grant that would help fund the T-N-R- plan, and her biggest supporters in the fight to save the kitties are the Ravenswood tenants -- "90 percent of whom are black and Hispanic," Romano says.

As for men disliking cats, a man named Bryan Kortis runs the influential non-profit Neighborhood Cats, which recently helped design a more efficient trap to help volunteer rescuers humanely gather stray cats for sterilization.

AP-Petside's racial profiling is as inaccurate as it is appalling; cats and the great silent majority that love them certainly deserve better. Considering everything they do for us humans -- lowering our blood pressure; helping us to live longer, healthier lives; providing love and loyalty, regardless of a person's race or gender -- certainly animals' stories should be told with accuracy, not stereotyped generalizations.

One of the sages quoted in the AP article says: "Cats are all about cats but dogs are interested in pleasing their owners. Cats don't care if they please you or not." I can think of several instances of cats demonstrating a high level of care for humans. Just like dogs, cats can help miracles happen for people. Some cats are certified for pet-provided therapy, visiting hospitals and hospice care facilities to spread comfort and joy.