Talk:Cat/Archive 6

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About cats and ownership

Katzenjammer (and folks), having been in and out of hospitals for the last three weeks, I haven't taken the opportunity to answer the debate about companionship/keepership/guardianship of cats vs plain old ownership. I object in principle to changing (nearly)every single iteration of the word "owner" in the cat article to something else. As a case in point, the Dog article has seven instances of the word owner but none of either: master/keeper/companion/guardian or whatever other terms. If you want to change some of those "owners" because of the sheer number (15 is a bit much) fine, but changing all but one of them is way too much the way I see it. Now, it DOES look like it's pushing an AR agenda (especially compared to Dog). I'd say let's revisit the article and keep say about half the "owners" and it should look neither anti-AR nor pro-AR. What say you?--Ramdrake 23:41, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Ramdrake, the next time how about letting people know you're going to be away for a long time? Or, if that isn't possible, how about dialing back your sense of entitlement, recognising that any changes were made in good faith based on a lengthy lack of discussion, and leaving them the hell alone while you resume the discussion? Hey? Katzenjammer 13:36, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Katzenjammer, how would you suggest I attempt to forecast the days I am sick enough to be in a hospital, for goodness' sake??? I'm not aware that there is a statute of limitations at WP on the maximum age of a change beyond which you can't revert it. Besides, the current discussion obviously proves that the consensus seems to be on the side of using the word "owner", rather than going at lengths not to use it.--Ramdrake 16:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I'd suggest that if you're gone long enough to give reasonable people the impression that the discussion is over, that you leave any changes in place when you come back. What makes you imagine that your position is a privileged one? Hell, what makes you imagine that the current discussion "obviously proves" that your position is the favored one? Honestly, you sound demented. Katzenjammer 20:24, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I urge you to be careful: please do not make personal attacks. This last sentence definitely was one. Count the number of editors who have voiced their opinion here. You and OlivierD are the only ones to carry on that using the word "owner" to refer to a person who has a cat is wrong. All the other editors say it's quite alright to use the term, especially given the caveat that has been introduced as a footnote.--Ramdrake 20:50, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I'd urge you to re-read the section you cite. Please note the vast gulf between "you are demented" and "you sound demented [to me]". The former is a judgement about you and thus an attack, the latter is me saying how you came across to me. Big difference.
So, same thing applies, if I say "You sound like a moron" I'm just stating how you come across, and it's not an insult, whereas if I say "You are moron", that's an insult? Methinks you're splitting hairs here.--Ramdrake 23:42, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Apropos your "all the other editors": At times, a group of editors may be able to, through persistence, numbers, and organization, overwhelm well-meaning editors and generate what appears to be support for a version of the article that is actually inaccurate, libelous, or not neutral, e.g. giving undue weight to a specific point of view. This is not a consensus. Katzenjammer 23:05, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Am I to take this argument as boiling down to your stating that you're the only one (along with David) who's right in this debate?--Ramdrake 23:42, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
You should take it at face value: numbers and persistence do not a consensus make. If you cannot justify your position by showing that "owner" is the most appropriate word in the contexts where you want to use it, and you cannot show a policy that says context-appropriate language use doesn't matter, then your demands are based on nothing more than your own POV. Katzenjammer 16:38, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Put bluntly. this type of edit spreads the message that cat "ownership" is wrong when it just isn't (unless someone can find a law passeed somewhere that says so). After rereading the section, I would revert most instances of "caregiver" back to "owner" and leave most "companions" and "human companions" as they are (some "human companions" could use being shortened to just "humans", though).--Ramdrake 23:48, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Describing the relationship as anything other than "owner" is patently ridiculous. The legal relationship that exists between a pet and its master is one of ownership, to suggest otherwise and to go to extreme means in these articles is an affront to the basic principals of logic and law.--RWR8189 04:05, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Some people believe that cats can be owned, others do not. All can agree that cats can be taken care of. So in that respect, "caregiver" is a neutral term that all can agree upon. It neither pushes an AR agenda nor an anti-AR agenda. To use the term "owner" is to take an implicit stand on this issue, which it is not up to WP to do.

The fact that cat ownership is legal is generally irrelevant. It may be relevant in the context of discussing legal matters, which is not the case in the article.

The fact that the termo "owner" is used in the article on dogs is also irrelevant.

David Olivier 08:48, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

In Wikipedia, we are bound to describe a situation as it is in the real world. I can cite you at least 20 books on cats which I personnally own, and which describe the relationship of human to cat as ownership (sometimes breedership, in books intended for breeders). The relationship from cat to human is also sometimes described as companionship. Your statements about the relevance of the legal existence of cat ownership and aboutr the relevance of consistently using the word "owner" across all pet species again seem to fail to grasp that Wikipedia must describe reality, and reality is that pets are usually owned in this world. Using the word "owner" is not taking a stand, but rather acknowledging common usage. It definitely looks like this edit was strictly done to push a pro-AR agenda.--Ramdrake 13:51, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I've reverted to "owner" in the article and put a note that the debate on ownership exists but that Wikipedia's usage of the term takes no position in the debate. I believe that's as much NPOV as it can get.--Ramdrake 14:41, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

I can cite you at least 20 books that say that animals are not property. What does that prove? Are your books authoritive on the debate about whether or not animals can be regarded as property? The chances are that they do not even discuss the issue!

Yes, we are bound to describe the world as it is. That means that it would be perfectly OK to state, in the article on cats or elsewhere, that many people speak of owning cats. In WP we are however also bound not to take a stance on this issue.

It is regrettable that you reverted back to "ownership" without waiting for the discussion to come to a conclusion. That way of talking of cats does amount to taking a stance. Using other, neutral terms, such as "caregiver" or "human" is not taking a stance; it is acceptable to all.

David Olivier 14:49, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Saying that the use of the term "owner" isn't taking a position does not fix the problem. It is taking a position. It is simply not true that it "the current common usage of the term in the available literature". It acknowledges the usage of the term in a certain type of litterature. It is not used in other types. David Olivier 14:55, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
This article is about cats, not about the ownership debate. Please provide proof that contradicts the common usage of the word owner in relation to cats, specifically. Nearly every single book and reference I've read uses the word "owner", that is, outside of AR circles. Systematically removing the word "owner" is giving undue weight to the opinion of what is currently a minority (AR advocates).--Ramdrake 15:03, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't catch that the first time around: are you saying that stating one is not taking a position is actually taking a position? I'm having trouble with the logic of this.--Ramdrake 15:14, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

If an article repeatedly used sexist language, but just added a sign stating "the use of these words is controversial, but their use on this page should not be construed as taking a stance in the debate", would you think that that fixed the problem? No, quite the contrary. It is just a way of taking a stance and trying to camouflage that stance at the same time. David Olivier 15:45, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

There are innumerable articles of law, charters, constitutions, contracts, you name it, that have a clause saying "the use of the masculine form in this document does not imply that this role/function/prerogative is reserved only to men". Namely, the Canadian Constitution has one such clause.--Ramdrake 16:32, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
The "common" use of a word is not a reliable reference proving that it is right to use that word. Furthermore, I am not sure at all that most people conceive of their cats as property. They probably do not. You have shown no reference proving that they do - no more than I have shown any proving that they don't. David Olivier 15:49, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Please remember, Wikipedia is about verifiabilty, not truth. This is not and never was a debate about right or wrong, just about common usage. Take the following sites: [1], [2], [3]. They are authoritative sites on cats and they all refer to humans having cats as "owners". So, here's your reference, as mainstream as it gets.--Ramdrake 16:32, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
This seems to be a silly discussion, of course we are cat owners. To get a cat you need to pay, and in the rare cases in which you get one for free you are still considered an owner just as much as you would be the owner of any item that is given to you as a gift. Dionyseus 16:13, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I have never, ever, heard anyone (except those forwarding the usage of the terms here) use "human companion" or "caregiver" when referring to living with and taking care of an animal, and I've known many pet owners (yes, I said it, owners) who were Animal Rights activists, as well as many who were just plain people who just loved their pets. It seems a little silly to me, like using "mailperson" instead of "mailman", or "waitron" instead of "waiter" or "waitress", only worse. It DOES seem like those terms are just AR weasel words (in the sense of seeming to maintain neutrality, when they do not), and aside from "owner" truly being the common usage and the common state of the situation (a "caregiver" who is not the legal owner is usually either just a temporary, like a friend taking care of a pet while the owner is on holiday, or someone that just puts food out for strays, as far as I've seen or heard of), the terms "human companion" and "caregiver" are long and clumsy. I think we should just stick with "owner" and the reference note that Ramdrake added. Nique1287 16:16, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
Then you should do what I did: a search. I got back 528,000 for cat caregiver. (0.31 seconds) Katzenjammer 13:40, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Without quotes, you get hits for page that have both cat and caregiver in them, though they might not be related. In that sense, searching for cat owner gives you 7,300,000 hits. Try it in quotes: "cat caregiver" get 2,140 hits (0.39 seconds), as "cat owner" gets 314,000 hits (0.04 seconds). If that doesn't show which is common usage, I don't know what else will.--Boffob 19:07, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia is about verifiability, not truth, you say. Well, in what sense is it "verifiable" that cats are owned? All you can point to is that it is verifiable that some people believe that cats are owned. That is not the same thing.

A site may be authoritive about cats, without at all addressing the issue of whether they are owned or not. Have the sites you (Ramdrake) point to addressed that issue? In what way are they authoritive on that issue? More so than other sources, such as quite some books by philosophers, that argue that animals are not property?

As I already said, opinions differ on the subjec of whether cats are owned or not. Wikipedia should remain neutral on that issue, and thus not use the word "owner".David Olivier 16:42, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Opinions may differ, but by far the majority opinion is that the most common way of describing the relationship betwween human and cat is "ownership". This is not about whether this calling is wrong or right; this is about is this the most common calling? So far everything I know point to an emphatic yes, thus this is the word WP should be using. I've inserted a footnote which says many people disagree with this, so opposing viewpoint has at least been mentioned. Thus, WP policy requirements are met.--Ramdrake 16:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
I would like to point out to you that not using the most commonly used term "owner" is actually taking the "not possible to own a cat" side. Dionyseus 16:50, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
No, it's not. Check your logic. The situation is not a dichotomy and those two alternatives are orthogonal to one another. Katzenjammer 18:07, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Nique1287 says: "I have never, ever, heard anyone (except those forwarding the usage of the terms here) use "human companion" or "caregiver"" Well, that goes for any term whatever. If you bannish from your sample those who use the term, you have never heard the term used.

People who use terms such as "caregiver" or "companion" are not Martians. They live on the same planet, and their opinions do exist and count, as much as yours.

The fact is that not all people believe that cats are owned. WP should remain neutral on that issue.

David Olivier 16:52, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, to start with, I have little pieces of paper (cat licenses) from my town, and registration papers (from my cat registry association) that both say I own my cats, legally and all. I would indeed call that verification that cats can be owned. Also, this is an article about cats, not an article about the ownership debate. I cited some authoritative sites about cats, which care nothing about the debate, but I used them to demonstrate the common use of the term. I'm sorry to have to say this, but if you want to keep arguing that animals cannot be owned, you're just in the wrong article.--Ramdrake 16:55, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
I heartily concur with Ramdrake and others. Having worked in cat rescue for a number of years, most people I come into contact with, aside from the extreme AR people, use the term "own" when referring to their cats. David, please be clear that using this term in this article has nothing to do with whether cats can be owned or not -- it's just the word that most people use to describe their relationship to their cats. howcheng {chat} 17:19, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

If you love your cat, set it free. If it doesn't come back to you, you can always get another one that looks similar. (^_^) Gzuckier 18:28, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

I would remind editors that Wikipedia is not a soapbox for advocacy, as those who wish to replace the word "owner" from the article seem to be doing. The relationship between animal and human is one of ownership as written in the law and commonly understood in society. The term "caregiver" is not necessarily NPOV either, as it implies that any level of care is given to the animal, which is not always the case in such a relationship.--RWR8189 21:27, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

I'd have to agree with most of the people here, this isn't really the place to be debating this. Fact is: currently the legal status of the pet owner is just that, owner. Debating whether they're property or not doesn't change that. My brother is extremely possessive of his cats, but one went missing once, and he went out around the neighborhood at about 11:30 to find her (point is, one can "own" a cat and still "love" it). The point made by Mandrake is a good one. An encyclopedia is there to provide information on how the world is, not how it should (or should not) be. As far as I can tell (being a pet owner for 7 years, 5 months now), the only ones offended by the usage are such terms are people, thing is the pets themselves don't seem to care. Also, I'd have to agree with the sentiment that "caregiver" "human companion" etc aren't exactly neutral terms. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by RogueQuestar (talkcontribs) 04:04, 30 November 2006 (UTC).

Using the term "owner" places the cat in the same position as a car, a chair, or a piece of paper. You own those things; they are your property. You are at liberty to smash your car to bits with a sledgehammer, tear the legs and arms off a chair, or burn a piece of paper to ashes. The law no longer allows you to inflict similar treatment on a cat or dog that you "own". Therefore, the naked terms "own" and "owner", no matter how commonly misused they are, are wrong. There are idiots who think they do, or should, own their children and even their spouse in the same sense they own their car or chair. They're wrong. They have a limited amount of freedom to choose how to deal with their children, but the keyword is limited. The authority we have over pets is similarly, though not identically, limited.
Do you provide care to your cat or dog? If you don't, and the law finds out, you will be charged with cruelty and have the animals taken from you. If you do provide care (and I suppose you do), you're a caregiver, plain and simple. There\'s no other word for it. You need not provide care to the things you really do own. You need never change your car's oil or re-glue that chairleg. That marks a non-trivial difference in the type of relationship involved.
Do you provide companionship to your cat or dog? Breeders like Ramdrake don't, except in an instrumental way (socialization makes the animal worth more money), and insensitive people don't, but most people do. For most of us, our way of relating to cats and dogs is utterly dissimilar to the way we relate to actual possessions such as cars and chairs. The cat or dog has an importance to us that is entirely different in its depth and quality compared to the importance we attach to our car or chair. The way we relate to cats and dogs is much more similar to the way we relate to human children. It is companionable.
For these non-trivial reasons, the terms "own" and "owner" should be replaced except where the context is legalistic. Katzenjammer 13:33, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
How on earth can you say I don't offer companionship to my cats? I breed cats; that doesn't mean I don't get attached to them, and in order to breed cats properly, you need to care for them usually somewhat above the level that regular cat owners do (ever hand-fed a kitten who's sick and won't eat by itself? Well, I have - many times). And when they die, I cry for them, just like you would - I don't take them to a scrapyard like I would an old, used car. So, please don't be too quick to judge.
Also, the right to destroy property is only peripherally related to ownership. The ability to purchase, sell, give, receive or exchange property is much more pertinent to ownership, and you can do (theoretically at least) all those things with a cat. I might also like to point out that at least here in Canada, if you own say a building that's been recognized as a historical landmark, you can no more tear it down than you can wantonly kill a cat. So far, you're demonstrating cats represent restricted owenership (i.e. there are some things you can't do with them) rather than something else than ownership altogether.--Ramdrake 16:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, since I don't like putting replies in the middle of discussions, as for your comment about doing a search, I got 2,940,000 pages for cat owner, in 0.27 seconds, as opposed to your 528,000 for cat caregiver in 0.31 seconds. As for your points in this reply, again, the legal status is almost always owner anyway for what you consider the caregiver in this discussion, as I pointed out earlier. Yes, if you mistreat your animals, like your children, they can be taken away from you. But domestic animals, including cats, have trouble living on their own most often, hence the high death rate of feral cats. They can survive, but their lives are harder. That is perhaps why domesticated animals are owned: so that they are assured proper care. Your example of a car's oil is somewhat backwards: Yes, you can choose not to change the oil, but you won't be able to get full enjoyment out of the car if you don't. Yes, pet owners do sometimes abuse or mistreat their animals, and don't give them the proper care, but I don't think it's prevalent enough to warrant changing all instances of owner, noted in the article as a neutral term just demonstrating the popular use of the term, to caregiver or companion. Nique1287 15:10, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
You conveniently ignore my point about the car vs the cat. You can legally abuse the car, but you cannot legally abuse the cat. That makes the relationships different. It degrades communication when you insist on using one term for two nearly-unrelated concepts.
When you say "That is perhaps why domesticated animals are owned: so that they are assured proper care", you (apparently unwittingly, though I can't imagine how you can miss it) sabotage your own argument. The term in which the concept of provding care is imbedded is "caregiver", not "owner". The only concept embedded in "owner" is power.
And the point of my suggesting that you search was to refute your claim that the only place you "ever" heard it was here. You call your honesty into question when you say things that can be so easily disproven. The only way you would "never, ever" have heard it is if you move in anti-AR circles exclusively. The term "owner", when intentionally used outside a legalistic context, is agenda-driven. Katzenjammer 19:00, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Again, owner in the article is NOT agenda-driven. It simply reflects the common term for the relationship between a human and a cat, and the state that is the literal situation for almost all cases. Clearly, "cat owner" is more common than "cat caregiver" or "cat companion" (which I got approximately 89 000 results for on Google, by the way), if Google's results are to be trusted. You can test it yourself, how many results each search gets, and I'm sure your results will not be very different from mine, proportionally.
Also, your argument about my experience with the term caregiver is not only false (Again, I've known animal rights activists, although admittedly not fanatics who wanted EVERY term to be changed to reflect their view of the purely literal situation), but it gives the impression that your terms are not agenda-driven, when they clearly are or you wouldn't have this vendetta against the term owner in the article after it has been explained, repeatedly, that it is used in a neutral way in the article, simply as a reflection of the general use of the term compared to yours. Regardless, most people in this discussion seem (if my count of usernames and their opinions on the situation is correct) to be opposed to the use of caregiver in place of owner, since they can see (even if you cannot) that owner is not, in fact, used in some sort of evil anti-AR meaning in the article.
Also, I find it interesting that you have added replies to the current discussion including "[H]ow about dialing back your sense of entitlement, recognising that any changes were made in good faith based on a lengthy lack of discussion, and leaving them the hell alone while you resume the discussion?", ironically 6 days after the comment to which that reply, at least, was directed, when the previous discussion was clearly not finished, because there were people who were simply unable, for whatever reasons, to contribute to it in the time before it was archived, which was unfortunately fairly soon after the last reply. Nique1287 19:31, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

To say that the use of the term "owner" is in some way "sourced" by references to books, Web sites, etc. is deeply confused. You can give sources for a fact, e.g. indicate an article in a reputable journal supporting that fact. You cannot source the use of a term in the same way; you cannot just point to the fact that the term is in effect used, to prove that it is right to use it.

We can all agree that many people (perhaps the majority) use the term "owner" for their cats. That doesn't make the use of that term NPOV. Just as we can all agree that, for instance, many people (perhaps the majority of those who mention him) refer to Thomas Aquinas as Saint Thomas Aquinas; that doesn't mean that Wikipedia should do the same. To do so would be clearly pro-Christian (perhaps pro-Catholic) NPOV.

All we can say is that the term "owner" is in common use. We can also say that many people (even among those who use it) feel uneasy about the term. And many also avoid it. In the article, we can mention those facts. We can go on to use neutral terms, which all should be happy with, such as "caregiver"; except in contexts where "owner" is relevant.

And by the way, if you want to insist on calling cats property on the basis of their legal status, at the very least you have to prove that they do have that status in all countries. That is not at all obvious. In France, for instance, their status is a lot more ambiguous than that. This just goes to show that that status is generally irrelevant in the context of the article. Why go to the trouble of doing all such worldwide legal research just to validate the use of the word "owner" in a sentence such as "Some theories suggest that cats see their owners gone for long times of the day..."?

David Olivier 19:50, 4 December 2006 (UTC)


You know, Nique, you don't strengthen your case by repeating yourself. If you want to try to make your case that "owner" somehow includes the emotional and caregiving relationships we're talking about here, then stop waving your hands and offer examples that impeach my showing that people can own without caring. Show that people who own cars or houses or vacant lots or rental properties ALWAYS care for them. You and I both know you can't do that. So once you've quit trying, how about being honest and acknowledging that it's merely something you wish were true.
It's easy to tell when someone has an agenda: they try to use words in a very special, self-serving way while claiming that they're not. That's what you're doing here, Nique, with your unsupported claim that "owner" means something it plainly doesn't.
Compare that with "caregiver". "Caregiver" is a word made up of two easy-to-understand words: "care" and "giver", meaning nothing more than someone who provides care. It has nothing to do with AR, as you'd know if you thought about it for 30 seconds: we also speak of caregivers in connection with children, elderly humans, disabled humans, the sick, and in other contexts. A nurse is a caregiver, a home aide is a caregiver. That's because it's such a simple, plain term. It has no baggage except in the minds of people with an agenda who don't like the idea that there are relationships other than power relationships. Katzenjammer 11:00, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Look, I don't mean this negatively or offensively or anything, so please don't take it that way, but I think you need to calm down, take a deep breath, and chill out for a bit. Perhaps you're taking this all a bit too seriously. We all do at times! It's natural when we care about an issue. However, nobody is attacking you, nor is anybody attacking your stance on the debate about whether or not cats can be owned. Nobody is trying to say, either way, whether cats truly can be owned, fully, in the article. Nobody at all. The point is, this has become a debate, which does not belong on a talk page, or anywhere on Wikipedia except possibly as a third-person neutral summary of a larger scale of the situation (such as perhaps a short summary of the debate, in NPOV, in the article).
Your terms are AR-agenda driven, while the use of owner in the article is purely a reflection of common use, which derives from the common situation in the Western world. (And please, please don't start with more "SOURCE, SOURCE, SOURCE! YOU CAN'T SOURCE IT, IT'S WRONG, LOL I WIN" as I've seen enough of it in this debate to cover at least three MMORPGs worth of silliness.) It is NOT driven by an Anti-AR agenda, it is NOT going to perpetuate anything that hasn't been perpetuating itself for years, if not decades or longer. The Google results alone show that Owner is the most common term in use with regards to the relationship between humans and cats.
If you are unhappy with this, then go host a protest, send letters to your local political representative, and spread your word around that the situation just isn't right. But Wikipedia is not a soapbox, and as such is not the place for animal rights advocacy. It's a place to show the reality of the situation, and there IS a footnote at the first use of Owner that explains that there is no agenda behind the use in the article, it's just the common use. Until the use of your terms becomes more popular than the use of the term owner, the article's mentions of the word should not be changed. Nique1287 14:19, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Please answer my arguments. David Olivier 14:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

David, you say: We can all agree that many people (perhaps the majority) use the term "owner" for their cats. That doesn't make the use of that term NPOV.
That doesn't make the term NPOV, but that makes it the most common one, and the mainstream term to use. We can certainly make a note (and we did) that many people object to this use of the word, but that doesn't change the fact it's demonstrably (just do a comparative search in Google of the number of hits of: "cat owner" "cat caregiver" and "cat companion") the most commonly used term, and as such WP must use it.
You then go on to say: All we can say is that the term "owner" is in common use. We can also say that many people (even among those who use it) feel uneasy about the term. And many also avoid it. In the article, we can mention those facts.
All of this is already mentioned in the footnote I added.
We can go on to use neutral terms, which all should be happy with, such as "caregiver"; except in contexts where "owner";;;; is relevant.
By giving preference to an alternate term rather than the term most commonly used, we are showing a POV bias. We can't in WP. It's that simple.
And by the way, if you want to insist on calling cats property on the basis of their legal status, at the very least you have to prove that they do have that status in all countries. That is not at all obvious. In France, for instance, their status is a lot more ambiguous than that. This just goes to show that that status is generally irrelevant in the context of the article. Why go to the trouble of doing all such worldwide legal research just to validate the use of the word "owner" in a sentence such as "Some theories suggest that cats see their owners gone for long times of the day..."?
Again, we are not validating the legal status of cats, but rather acknowledging the common use of the word owner in relation to having a cat. What is so difficult to understand in this concept? You've already recognized earlier in the discussion that "owner" was in all likelihood the most commonly used term for this.--Ramdrake 17:04, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for acknowledging that "[being the most common term] doesn't make the term ["owner"] NPOV". Thanks also for acknowledging that the legal status of cats as property in certain countries should not enter the debate.

Now, is there any WP policy that states that the most common term is the one to use? In all circumstances? Then I think there are a good deal of pages that should be rewritten! For instance, a google search seems to show that the word "car" is about six times as common as the word "automobile", but the WP "car" article redirects to "automobile" and mostly uses that last term.

So I'd say that the word choice must depend not on its being the most common term, but on its being NPOV - in tune with the fact that NPOV is viewed as fundamental in WP policy. Since you have accepted that being a common term does not make "owner" a NPOV term, it seems to e that how common the term "owner" may be should be left entirely out of the discussion.

"By giving preference to an alternate term rather than the term most commonly used, we are showing a POV bias." I see no reason to say that. There can be many different reasons to give preference to a term that is not the most commonly used one. A term can be more technically correct, or less ambiguous, or less offensive to some, and so on. It can also be more NPOV. The term "owner" is not technically correct (you come close to admitting that), it is offensive to some (to me for instance - I would not like to think of myself as an owner of other sentient beings), it is not NPOV (since there are alternative terms that are technically offensive to no one, are technically correct, and that all can agree upon). I think that should settle the argument. David Olivier 17:41, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

WP is an encyclopedia, so we must describe things as they are, not as we believe they should be (I know we've been over this before). Therefore the most common term for a thing should be the one used, with the proviso that closely matched usages may yield different results. For instance, even though car is used about 5 more times in Google than automobile, the term automobile was first used, is somewhat more specific (a car maybe something else than a self-propelled vehicule), so in this case "automobile" is preferred, with "car" being mentioned.
What you say is not necessarily WP policy, and so far you have not proven that "owner" is less NPOV than companion or caretaker. As a matter of fact, several editors (myself included) here have raised the concern that those terms are more POV than "owner". Arguments have been presented to show how "caretaker" and "companion" fail to completely describe some aspects (mostly legal but there are others) of the cat-human relationship (so there is technically some level of incorrectness in using these expressions too). Plus, these expressions are a distinct minority (100-1000 times rarer) than "cat owner" which when we put it all together, just serves to demonstrate that "cat owner" is the better expression to choose. Is it ideal? Nobody is saying that, and good arguments have been presented to show it's not ideal. It's just the best commonly used expression.--Ramdrake 18:26, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Firstly, concerning your last sentence, if you consider it an argument as a whole, then it's already over. Argument in this context implies that people are fighting or quarrelling, though admittedly it has other meanings as well. But this is not an argument, it's a discussion as to whether or not your terms, which are not NPOV-driven since they are based on your opinion of the meaning of the word 'owner' and the connotations it has for you, should be used in the article.
Secondly, if you have to use the term "technically" to describe your terms, then it should be obvious that they are not fully the way you describe them. "Technically neutral" and "technically correct" do not mean "neutral" and "correct"; they mean that someone is trying to twist the words to fit their own meaning. Technicalities do not justify changing a common use on a page.
As for your car versus automobile analogy, automobile is the original and correct term, while car is colloquial. Also, people still know the word 'automobile' and that it is synonymous with 'car'. Owner, on the other hand, is the correct (in a majority of cases) and popular term, compared to 'caregiver' and 'companion' which are new in this context, and while people could guess that they refer to the person who (again, I have to say it) owns the cat, it's easier in this case to refer to a word that people know in the context given.
Now, this discussion alone is over 30 kb in size, there have been attempts at compromise (such as the footnote regarding the use of the term 'owner'), and you seem to be not only ignoring what is said, often, but taking this increasingly personally when your arguments are refuted. Might I suggest taking a break, re-reading the whole discussion in one go with an open mind, and seeing if you still feel the same way afterward? And not just you, anyone else who feels like replying. It might save us all a lot of hassle if we all did this at this point, eh? Nique1287 18:25, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Ramdrake: "WP is an encyclopedia, so we must describe things as they are, not as we believe they should be" - Yes, you've said that 20 times and I've answered 20 times that you are confused. Using a term is not the description of anything. If you want the article to say, descriptively, that the term "owner" is the most common one in English language, that is quite OK for me (providing it is relevant and verifiable). But for WP to use the term is not a description of that fact; it is an assertion that that term is the right one to use. To take another example: whether or not the word "nigger" is in fact more commonly used than "black", I do not think that it would be NPOV to use the former in a WP article.

My example of car vs. automobile was just to show that there is no general rule that says that the most common term is the one to use. You try to explain away the use of the less common term in car/automobile article. But that is precisely what I was saying: there are various ways to judge the merit of a term, and the frequency of its use is not a determining factor.

"several editors (myself included) here have raised the concern that those [alternative] terms are more POV than "owner"" It seems to me that the only argument given is that "owner" is the most common term, and that any alternative term must be AR agenda-driven. That is an [ad hominem] fallacy.

As far as I can tell, you have no objection to "caregiver" or "keeper", other than that suspicion of yours. Of course, no one is suggesting that a term such as "caregiver" be used when it is not appropriate, for instance when describing situations where the human is physically abusing the cat. So there is no reason to believe that the use of such terms, where appropriate, is contrary to the beliefs of anyone. The term "owner", in contrast, is contrary to the beliefs of many, and thus is POV from the start; it is also technically questionable and is generaly irrelevant to the context.

Nique1287: I don't really know what you mean in your first paragraph about arguments. Ane what do you mean by "since ["my" terms] are based on your opinion of the meaning of the word 'owner' and the connotations it has for you. Do you mean that an owner is not someone who owns? That that is just "my interpretation" of the word?

I don't see why advocating technically correct terms should be labeled technicalities. True, technically correct terms may be POV, but in the present case, as said above, I have seen no solid argument to that effect.

Yes, this discussion is getting long. It would have been shorter if terms that go against the beliefs of no one had been accepted by all.

David Olivier 19:10, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Nique, don't try to put the problem on me by telling me to "calm down". Do something substantive instead: provide evidence for your assertions. I've provided evidence for mine. It's your turn. And repeating your assertions does not constitute evidence, no matter how much you want to believe it does. Provide evidence. If you can't, then be an adult and admit that you have no evidence. Or, if that's too hard for you, at least stop trying to bully us into giving up.
You and Ramdrake have offered nothing but phony assertions based on frequency of use. David has pointed out that using the term "n*gg*r" to refer to people of sub-Saharan ancestry would have been inappropriately POV for something claiming to be an encyclopedia even 50 years ago when the term was in common use.
Here's another example: during WW2, Black men were not allowed into gunnery positions in the Navy. The reason given was that they had "poor night vision". Had wiki been around at the time, should it have reinforced that lie?
And yet another: there's still, even today (incredible as that might seem), a large segment of the population, possibly even a majority, that believes sub-Saharan-stock people are genetically inferior on some level to European-stock people. Should wiki reinforce those prejudices through the terminology it uses to refer to Black people? It wouldn't be hard--"science" did it for hundreds of years.
And still another: due principally to government propaganda, many/most people think there's something harmful about marijuana even though all the science says there isn't. Should the wiki article pander to that misinformation?
Here's the general question: is it the duty of an encyclopedia to be as accurate as possible, or to reinforce popular prejudice and misinformation? Please support your answer. Katzenjammer 20:18, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Case in point, so far, you have totally failed to demonstrate that the use of the word "owner" is in any way prejudicial or misleading. So far, I have seen only the reiteration of the same unproven proposition (using "owner" is wrong). The fact you object to it does nothing to prove its wrongness.--Ramdrake 20:50, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Wrong. I've demonstrated that "caregiver" is an NPOV term since it is used in fundamentally identical ways about both humans and non-humans, and occasionally about non-living entities analogously.
"Caregiver" is an incomplete term as it does not convey any of the legal responsibilities that come with cat ownership. You seem to want to obscure this important part of owning a cat. Also, unfortunately, it does not denote the sad situation where people who "own" cats do not properly care for them. The term seems to assume eveybody cares for their cat(s). I know from experience this is not universally true.--Ramdrake 23:34, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
And here we are, come full circle back to the original point: with one possible exception, the contexts in which the term is being used in this article have nothing to do with legal responsibilities. What is it about that concept that's so hard for you?
If I trail a string for a cat's amusement, I'm being companionable and it doesn't matter a damn whether the cat in question lives with me or is a stranger to me. I'm providing companionship. Legal relationships are irrelevant. They have no bearing on my action.
Similarly, if I supply a bowl of food or water to a cat, or pay to have a vet treat an injury, my legal standing is irrelevant to the context. I am a caregiver. So is the vet. If the cat regularly lives with someone else, that someone else might be grateful and want to thank me or reimburse me, but again no legal issues come into it. Even if the person who "owns" the cat gets angry with me for having the cat treated at my expense, the law would ignore any complaint they might make as being ridiculous and contrary to public policy. Katzenjammer 17:59, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
The same thing cannot be said about "owner". The word "owner" implies a property relationship, period. To say that animal "ownership" is a special case of inanimate-property ownership doesn't wash. You might as say that water is a special case of air---it stretches the notion of "special case" past the breaking point.
As we said, there are different kinds of ownership. You seem to imply that any animal cannot be owned in any sense of the word. If such is the case, why focus on cats and not take your argument to the Dog page to see what they think of it? What we are saying is that there is some ownership in the sense of a legal responsibility, in the sense that you can decide the cat's fate (how many people a year have their cats put down because they claw or spray? The answer is: way too many). It's a sad situation, but it demonstrates that the relationship is really one of owenership. Strictly speaking, in every country I know of, you have the right of life and death over your cat, litterally -even though you may not have many options as to how to properly put it to death- whether this is right or wrong, this is the current situation, and if that's not ownership, what is? --Ramdrake 23:34, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Context, Ramdrake, context. There is only one place in the article in which legal standing is even possibly relevant. You cannot find any other context within the article in which legal standing has any relevance whatsoever.
As to the question of having the animal killed, I think you'll find that there is no more "ownership" involved there than there is when a family member with medical power of attorney decides to have the plug pulled on a human who has no hope of recovery. That's why there are very few options as to how you can have the cat killed. The fiction, if it is a fiction, must be maintained that you are ordering the cat's death as the most humane decision you can take in your capacity as the cat's caregiver...because that is the only context in which it would be ethical for the vet to participate. Katzenjammer 17:59, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


The legal relationship between cats and humans in English-speaking jurisdictions today has almost nothing at all in common with the unquestionable ownership relationships between humans and cars, chairs, pieces of paper, houses, or any other non-living entity. Cats are assigned the status of "property" in English speaking jurisdictions largely so that their "owners" can claim against someone harming them. See http://www.animallaw.info/ Few jurisdictions will permit, for example, someone to claim against the "owner" if they are scratched or bitten by a cat they're trying to fondle -- cats are legally assumed to be their own persons at that level, and not biddable.
Being unable to sue for being scratched while trying to fondle a cat has nothing to do with ownership: if I get scratched by someone's cats and I did nothing to it (the cat launched at me) I can certainly sue. If I was fondling the cat, I was taking a risk for which I become responsible. Same way, if I borrow your car and hurt myself in an accident with your borrowed car (and it was fine mechanically, or at least there weren't any problems with it you didn't tell me about), I can't sue you; in driving it, I am assuming a responsibility. If I get hurt by you driving your car and getting into an accident, I can certainly sue. This has nothing to do with ownership; it has everything to do with risk and responsibility that goes with taking a risk. Cats are not assumed to be their own persons legally in any jurisdiction I am aware of, unless you can find me a specific quote that says otherwise.--Ramdrake 23:34, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Sure you can sue. You can sue if you get up on the wrong side of the bed one morning. Whether your suit will go anywhere except out into the street followed by judicial muttering is a different issue.
The fact that the cat can defend itself without being deemed a menace or getting its "owner" into legal hot water shows legal recognition that cats have (something that passes for) a complex nature with free will and decision-making power. To that extent, the law treats a cat the same way it treats a human in a comparable situation. Katzenjammer 17:59, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
You need to do something more substantive than to assert convention over and over again, as though that were somehow evidence. Katzenjammer 22:50, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
So far, you haven't presented any evidence which hasn't been throughly disproved, so insofar as I am concerned, the only argument in favor of your position is that you find the term "owner" repulsive. You haven't addressed the flaws incumbent to the terms you are suggesting, just reiterated your position.--Ramdrake 23:34, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
You haven't disproved anything. All you've done is go around and around in a circle, repeating unsupported assertions and ignoring the detailed explanations David and I have been providing to support the use of context-appropriate language. Go through the article and justify each use of "owner" by citing the way in which legal standing is relevant at that point. If you can do that, you'll maybe have something. Right now you've got bupkes. Katzenjammer 17:59, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Katzenjammer, the threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth, I'd suggest you give the official policy a read. Dionyseus 21:34, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
So it's okay if wiki assembles garbage, as long as it can be shown that it's garbage believed by some number of ignorant people? There's no requirement to state the best information? Is that really what you're claiming? If so, how about a pointer to some official statement disclaiming the need for articles to have the best information? Because I'm sorry, I just don't buy that. Katzenjammer 22:50, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I have the sense that "owner" and "caregiver" are both being used in over-simplified ways. In most cases, the terms are not in conflict, and a universal encyclopedia should not be caught up in particular cultural connotations. My local humane society refers to ownership, but not to purchase; a change in ownership is an adoption. "Owner" refers to a legal relationship which includes a duty to provide care for the animal, so it does mean something a little different from ownership in the context of ordinary goods. I would even suggest this relationship (ownership implies responsibility) should be explicit in the article, and using both "owner" and "caregiver" would add some variety to the narrative (good style). One place where the term 'owner' is actually a little silly is discussing cats bonding with humans, where the cat clearly is not responding to a legal concept, but to a behaviour. Peter Grey 21:30, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Agreed, I corrected that one. Was a bit silly. And I agree with your interpretation that ownership of a cat is a little different than ownership of ordinary goods. My point is, it is a bit different, it has special restrictions, but it is not an altogether alien meaning to the ordinary meaning of ownership, more like a special case.--Ramdrake 21:43, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Katzenjammer and David, I think this has gone on for long enough and everyone's patience is about exhausted (at least mine is). Several people have offered their opinion in this section, and everyone but the two of you agree that the word "owner" is the most appropriate one to use under most circumstances. It's not anybody trying to push any particular POV, it's just plain, simple consensus, and it's unfortunate you don't agree with it. But things being as they are, I don't see that this discussion can lead anywhere. At this point, I'd just like to ask you to respect consensus, even if you don't agree with it.--Ramdrake 19:30, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't see consensus here. Everyone but two is not everyone. Furthermore, the basic argument against alternative terms is that "Now, it DOES look like it's pushing an AR agenda" (Ramdrake, first post in this section). The only AR agenda that there is here is that terms such as "owner" are in effect anti-AR, whereas terms such as "caregiver" are not anti-anything or anyone; what you call "pushing an AR agenda" is just that AR minded people are not (always) ready to have their opinions systematically trodden on. Believing a cat is owned is incompatible with their beliefs, while believing a cat is given care to is incompatible with the beliefs of none. Terms such as "caregiver" should make everyone happy, except those who want to write into every paragraph that animals are just property.

There are many other things I have to do in my life, so I am not going to go on about this for thirty years. But don't count me as accepting this as consensus.

David Olivier 20:34, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

You seem to be confusing consensus and unanimity. There are seven editors who agreed the word "owner" was appropriate here, versus only the two of you saying it wasn't. That's agreement of a large majority (78%), therefore it is consensus. I'm sorry, but naively believing that all cats are taken care of by their owner (who is therefore justly to be called a caretaker) is incompatible with my beliefs, and the reality I see outside my window. There are too many cats that are indeed mistreated that just replacing "owner" with "caretaker" doesn't make the problem go away. If you want to do something useful for cats, volunteer at your local shelter or clinic so you might get a new insight on the true meaning of the word caretaker rather than rhethorically arguing about which word is best suited based on your principles and ideals.--Ramdrake 21:15, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

If by "consensus" you mean "majority", then (I suppose) you have such a consensus; but then, why not just call it a majority? If instead you mean, as the term usually means, a general agreement about a solution, well no, you don't have it. I for one just simply don't agree. As I said, I don't see it as the most important problem in the world, and that is the only reason why I may let you "win". But don't count me as consenting. As for your criticism of the term "caregiver": it was never proposed to use that word when it is not appropriate. It was proposed to use appropriate terms depending on the context. David Olivier 21:49, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Consensus. howcheng {chat} 22:16, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Ramdrake, there is no consensus here. Remember the quote from the policies page about mere numbers not representing consensus? That's what we have here, a non-consensus. And if you're tired of the discussion, you can always unilaterally stop.

You are trying to impose your POV by force of will. Neither you nor anyone else has made a showing that "owner" is a contextually more appropriate term than "caregiver" or "companion" as the case may be in the places where you want to use it. Either carry out that demonstration or acknowledge that you can't, okay? Katzenjammer 15:39, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

I believe it is you who are trying to impose your POV by force of will. Seven editors have said here they endorse the use of the word "owner" in the article. Your behaviour becomes tantamount to POV-warring against the majority opinion (if you don't want to call it "consensus"). Please see your position for what it is: a minority position, which should not be given undue weight.--Ramdrake 16:53, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
No, I'm not doing anything of the kind. David and I have been pushing for context-appropriate language. All you have to do is make a showing that your choice is more context-appropriate than our choice. OR cite the policy that says language choice doesn't matter. That's all you have to do. But instead of playing it straight and either making such a principle-based showing or backing off, you're trying to impose your will by forcing a close, assuming your conclusions, and ignoring any inconvenient points made by others. Those tricks might be acceptable in a used-car lot, but they're not appropriate here. (Note on the consensus page the specific, clear statement that wikipedia is not a majoritarian democracy. That means that your repeated citing of numbers is nothing more than another inappropriate ploy.).
Demonstrate that your choice is more context-appropriate, or cite the language-doesn't-matter policy, or acknowledge that you're on the wrong side of the issue. Katzenjammer 18:31, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
You still have it backwards: you are the one proposing the change, so you must convince us that the wording is more appropriate. So far, your arguments haven't convinced anybody except maybe yourself and David, the two proponents of this change. Counter-arguments have been proposed which you have also ignored, so please don't come making demands. Everybody but you here is quite satisfied with the term "owner". I would suggest you let it go and turn to more productive endeavors.--Ramdrake 20:11, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
So far, myself and other editors here have presented several arguments:
  • Common usage (owner is the most frequent usage in the literature)
  • Inclusiveness of the term ("owner" has legal connotations that describe the relationship that none of the proposed alternatives present)
  • Failure of the alternate terms to properly describe the relationship ("caregiver" assumes a cat owner always cares for his or her cat, which is demosntrably not always the case; similar issues can be raised about "human companion").
  • Cumbersomeness (it has been suggested terms like "human companion" are more cumbersome and less straightforward than "owner", which is universally recognized by English speakers).
In addition, a supermajority (78%) has expressed opinion that "owner" is the correct term to use, while explaining the reasoning for arriving at their conclusion (rather than just simply voting). While not unanimous, this group seems to have attained consensus, which you refuse to accept. While it's unfortunate, it's certainly your decision to make, but it doesn't change the fact that a supermajority of editors have all agreed to use the term "owner".
On the other hand, you have turned down or ignored several worthy arguments, and are demanding more demonstration and more proof that the word chosen by consensus is more appropriate. I think it's time to put a close to this ongoing debate, whether you agree or not. I think it's fairly clear that there are good reasons why "owner" is the most appropriate term, even if it may not be ideal in some respects. That it may not be ideal, and that some people say it is inappropriate has been noted in the article. The article even goes so far as to say it doesn't take a position in this debate, but is just following common usage. That's as far as it can stretch without giving a small minority position an undue weight, which you are proving more and more with each post you are trying to do.--Ramdrake 21:02, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Argument 1: "common usage". A valid argument, but a weak one. As already noted, there are many cases, such as car/automobile, in which the term used is not the most common one.

Argument 2: "inclusiveness". An argument that is valid only in those cases where such legal connotations are relevant. As already noted, no one proposes to replace the word "owner" in those contexts.

Argument 3: "failure of the alternate terms to properly describe the relationship". As already noted, the proposal is to use in each case a relevant term.

Argument 4: "cumbersomeness". Why should that count in the case of "owner" vs. "caregiver", but not in the case of "car" vs. "automobile"? Is the cumbersomeness you perceive not the result of your dislike for the terms?

Argument 5: "supermajority". That is not an argument indicating that "owner" is more appropriate; it is only an argument indicating that many people think so.

Argument 6: "you have turned down or ignored several worthy arguments". This argument is valid only if those "several worthy arguments" are themselves valid; in other words, is not an argument on its own right.

Furthermore, if when you refer to the "several worthy arguments" you mean the arguments given by the various contenders who defend the word "owner", please note that many of them are mutually destructive. Sometimes you say things like "please be clear that using this term in this article has nothing to do with whether cats can be owned or not -- it's just the word that most people use to describe their relationship to their cats"; at other times, you insist that "of course we are cat owners. To get a cat you need to pay...". Sometimes you say that insisting on the word "owner" is not agenda-driven, but then freely admit that the reason you are against any effort to use alternative terms is that it would make people who believe in animal rights happy. You think in "you happy us unhappy" terms, as if this was a zero-sum game.

Concerning the "supermajority": it appears that many of the people on this page are cat owners - i.e. cat breeders, cat fanciers, etc. That doesn't disqualify anyone who makes a good argument. But it does give some perspective on the reasons for the "supermajority". David Olivier 22:58, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

You're making a huge assumption there, David. I can't speak for the others, but I can assure you I am not a cat breeder or a cat fancier or "etc", not that being a cat breeder or cat fancier is necessarily a bad thing. I am a cat lover who simply believes the term "owner" is most appropiate because not only is it the most commonly used term and the legal term, it makes perfect sense because not everyone who has a cat actually takes good care of them. In other words, changing the term to "caregiver" would assume that the human is taking good care of the cat, when in reality this is not always the case. Dionyseus 23:10, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Request for Comment

There is an apparently unresolvable dispute about terminology. The nature of that dispute is captured pretty well in the "Cats and Ownership" section. 21:51, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Is user:Katzenjammer serious? Dionyseus 21:08, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Deadly serious, as far as I know.--Ramdrake 21:26, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
  • For the record, based on all arguments in the overlong section above, yes the term is appropriate. --Ramdrake 21:26, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
  • I'm not about to read the ridiculously long section above (I've never seen a talk page subsection so long). Nonetheless, based on the summary question(s) presented at Rfc, I wanted to note that I find no problem, in terms of Wikipedia policy, with using the word "owner" as it is used in this article. · j e r s y k o talk · 21:36, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
  • For the record, No the term is not the most appropriate except in cases where legal issues are figural. Katzenjammer 21:47, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
  • The term "owner" is the most common, recognizable, and, as such, appropriate term to use in the article, since most English-speaking people will recognize the relationship implied in the article by the term: that in which the cat is living with the human. Most cats are legally owned by the people who give them care, making the term "caregiver" irrelevant in this context, and those who are not are strays or under temporary care by friends or family of the owner. It is also more appropriate because of the prevalence of animal abuse, since caregiver implies that all cats living with humans are cared for. Nique1287 00:34, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
  • That's about as silly a debate as it can get. Cat owner is an appropriate term, any debate about it is, as the French say, enculer les mouches.--Boffob 19:18, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
  • As someone who is owned by several cats, I can understand the point - no-one can "own" a cat in the way they can a dog or a horse. "Owner" is perfectly good English, though, and fine for the article. I don't know about "legally owned", though - is it possible to "own" vermin? (that being the status of cats under English law) -- Ian Dalziel 19:27, 9 December 2006 (UTC)
  • The word "owner" does not have to be used every single time in the article, but it should certainly be used wherever the meaning is something beyond caregiver. An illustrative example: consider a child with a pet cat, who provides care on a day-to-day basis, but an adult is the legal owner, with responsibility for licensing, mandatory vaccinations, etc. Someone with the power to have the animal spayed or neutered (without its informed consent, obviously) can't be described as anything less than an owner. Peter Grey 01:39, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes The term 'owner' is appropriate and accepted usage in basically all cases. Psychofox 19:11, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes From a legal point of view, 'owner' is appropriate. "Responsibility for animals' behaviours fall on their owners" is a norm in every country i know of Sir Dante 13:08, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes "Owner" is the standard term in the U.S. People have no trouble using a word in multiple ways, and it's well understood that "owning" a cat is different from "owning" a piece of furniture. To say that "owner" can't mean "caregiver" because it's based on the word "own" is perilously close to the (false) Argument from Etymology that makes claims such as "if it's a journal (from French "jour" = day) it has to come out daily" or "if you call it a salary, you have to pay the employee in salt." Eric-Albert 18:47, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes. In the human world I "own" my cat. In the feline world, it's the other way round, but we're writing an encyclopaedia for humans and not for cats. Sam Blacketer 13:21, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

The door swings open -*BANG*-...a mediator enters and looks around

Some people say there is a group of Wikipedians called the Mediation Cabal...some say that they were purged by jealous admins...some people even say that they sent someone here to resolve this dispute...some people might even say I was sent by the cabal...I don't know. I see a heated argument and come running. I have read the debate above, and find it amusing. I love Wikipedia because it is the only place where one can find debates like this one. Now, I'm here to end this discussion. This debate is strictly over semantics and that is where I excel. I myself have interesting viewpoints on the usage of the word "owner" when talking about cats. I have several cats and I wouldn't say I "own" any of them; however, I also recognize the overwhelmingly common usage of the word "owner" and believe in an understandable vernacularized Wikipedia. Both parties in the debate above have probably exhausted themselves arguing their respective points. My own opinion lies somewhere in the middle, but unfortunately the English language has yet to come up with a word that truly describes the realationship between cats and those who adopt them as pets ('caregiver' is a little too mushy for my tates). However, English is a living language, if humans can overcome their specious superiority complex, perhaps someday there will be such a word. Until then, this page is the official authority on that subject. If any of the quarreling parties are willing to take this debate into a more controlled environment with someone who is truly trying to bring an amicable end to this debate, go here. If not, I will vanish into the shadows as quickly as I came. If you wish to talk to me in a more private setting, use my talk page. I hope you will take me up on my offer...Thanks!Antimatter---talk--- 17:18, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

You unfortunately don't seem to be neutral enough. I'm sure you love your cats as much as I love mine, but you own your cat. If you didn't own your cat, someone can take your cat and you wouldn't be able to do anything about it. If you didn't own your cat it would probably be outside in the streets trying to survive. Dionyseus 17:42, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand me my friend...If I had to take sides (which I am not doing) I would definitely say the word "own" is appropriate for this article. This is an encyclopedia, not an encycloPETA (what a stupid joke). However, you must realize that, as a mediator, if I came out and said that, my position would be comprimised and mediation would break down before it even began. What I was trying to say is I'm not interested at all in writing this article for you, but I have an understanding of what both sides are trying to do. I was merely trying to make everyone feel comfortable enough to talk about this. When I said I wouldn't say I 'own' my cat that was because it implies that a living being is my property, which is a concept I find uncomfortable. That's just me. Wikipedia isn't just for me. It's for everybody, and in English usage, when someone says they own a cat it means something entirely different from if someone was to say they own a car or a house, and perhaps that could be a starting point for reaching an understanding here. Anyway, please don't accuse me of being biased just because I don't agree with you immediately. The mediation cabal is not a bunch of "yes" men who will back up one side and denegrate the other. The key word here is AMICABLE solution. I'm sorry you got stuck with the most neutral mediator in the cabal. If you would like, I could pass this case on to someone else, but I would really like to get this resolved with a minimum of bad blood and hurt feelings. Antimatter---talk--- 06:32, 14 December 2006 (UTC)


Part of the problem is, we've been down that road twice, trying to explain to User:Katzenjammer and User:Olivierd that the word "owner" when it came to a cat had a somewhat different meaning than when it came to most inanimate objects: you can still purchase one (it's usally called an "adoption" but the principle remains that you give money in exchange for the cat), sell one, receive or give one as a gift, you can get rid of them in many ways, some legal, some not (Legally you can bring it to a shelter for possible readoption, or you can bring it to a vet for euthanasia - I'm not aware of any other legal alternatives). Reading through the archives, this concept seems to gather the almost unanimous backing of everyone except the two users above. I think at last count I was counting some 11 people saying "owner" was a correct term versus only these two who say otherwise. To me, that means it's a definite minority opinion and as such shouldn't be given undue weight. A concession was made and a reference was inserted at the first occurence of the word "owner" that said many AR people don't feel animals (including cats) can be owned, and that the usage of the word in this article did not signifiy an endorsement of the position that the cat be owned, just that it is meant to reflect that "owner" is by far the most commonly used and understood term to describe the cat-human relationship. It seems this isn't good enough. However, beyond that, I have grave concerns that any other concessions woud be giving undue weight to the opinion of a tiny, extremely vocal minority. My twopence' worth.--Ramdrake 16:35, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
It would seem, from what you say, that we are a bit stupid or stubborn.
But actually, reading through your above description of the "somewhat different meaning" you wish to ascribe to the term "owner" in the article, it doesn't seem at all that you are giving it a different meaning from when it is applied to inanimate objects. And reading through the archives myself, I see that many of you do openly subscribe to the plain basic meaning of the term:
- "Well, to start with, I have little pieces of paper (cat licenses) from my town, and registration papers (from my cat registry association) that both say I own my cats, legally and all. (...)"--Ramdrake 16:55, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
- "This seems to be a silly discussion, of course we are cat owners. To get a cat you need to pay, and in the rare cases in which you get one for free you are still considered an owner just as much as you would be the owner of any item that is given to you as a gift." Dionyseus 16:13, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
(I have not once in my life payed for a cat! Despite my having "got" a large number of them over the years. --D.O.)
- ""Describing the relationship as anything other than "owner" is patently ridiculous. The legal relationship that exists between a pet and its master is one of ownership, to suggest otherwise and to go to extreme means in these articles is an affront to the basic principals of logic and law.""--RWR8189 04:05, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
- "The relationship between animal and human is one of ownership as written in the law and commonly understood in society. The term "caregiver" is not necessarily NPOV either, as it implies that any level of care is given to the animal, which is not always the case in such a relationship."--RWR8189 21:27, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
(In other words, RWR8189 accepts that the word "owner" does not imply giving care, it just implies owning the animal, like owning a car. --D.O.)
- "Fact is: currently the legal status of the pet owner is just that, owner. (...)" —The preceding unsigned comment was added by RogueQuestar (talk • contribs) 04:04, 30 November 2006 (UTC).
- "I would like to point out to you that not using the most commonly used term "owner" is actually taking the "not possible to own a cat" side." Dionyseus 16:50, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
(Dionyseus is admitting that the issue, in his mind, is indeed whether you can own a cat. --D.O.)
- "The ability to purchase, sell, give, receive or exchange property is much more pertinent to ownership, and you can do (theoretically at least) all those things with a cat. I might also like to point out that at least here in Canada, if you own say a building that's been recognized as a historical landmark, you can no more tear it down than you can wantonly kill a cat. So far, you're demonstrating cats represent restricted owenership (i.e. there are some things you can't do with them) rather than something else than ownership altogether."--Ramdrake 16:33, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
What is alternative or "somewhat different" about the meaning you give the term "owner", when you yourself assert that cat ownership is not anything other than "ownership altogether"? Yes, you say it's a restricted ownership... just like owning a historical landmark!
What is clear, then, is that the use of the term "owner" that you have in mind is just that: the legal possession of another sentient being, as a piece of property. Now, it appears to be true that in the U.S. cats (and all other nonhuman animals) can be legal property. So you might say the term is adequate in this sense. However, WP is not supposed to be read only by U.S. residents. I live in France; what makes you think that the legal status of cats is the same over here? And what about all the other countries in the world? And why should you have to know about the legal status of cats in all the countries in the world, since in most places in the article, that legal status is just plainly irrelevant? In other words: why do you insist en implicitly asserting, again and again, even completely off topic, that cats are just property?
Who is it that is being POV here? Who is it that has an agenda?
David Olivier 19:40, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
A case in point: the first use of the term "owner" in the article is: "The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns owners to safeguard the more dangerous perches in their homes" Does this mean that this advice does not apply to people who are not owners of the cats they live with? David Olivier 19:54, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Under what circumstances would you live with a cat you don't own for long enough that is becomes a concern to safeguard the perches in your home? To have it vaccinated? Spayed and/or neutered? These are all typical concerns related to ownership of pets. Aso, if you're talking about behaviours that flow from the cat bonding to a human, given the time it usually takes for bonding to occur, under which circumstances would you have a cat living with you long enough that (if you don't consider you own it) at least your city considers is yours for human-cat bonding behaviour to happen? Also, we may well say that the article doesn't take position on ownership (which is true) while admitting all of us who have a cat are indeed owners, and the two statements are not mutualy contradictory. A cat living on a long-term basis with a human is usualy considered legally in an ownership situation, in most countries of the world (including as a matter of fact France and also Canada, my country). So, I don't think your nice collection of quotes denotes any kind of problem with the issue of ownership. Most people who have cats consider themselves as owners of these little devils, and in the eyes of the law, that's also the case. Very few think this "ownership" means they can destroy or abuse the animal at will; mostly they would rather think it implies an added duty to provide proper care if anything. So again, what's wrong with the word "owner", besides the fact you don't like it?--Ramdrake 22:09, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

As a hypothetical excercise I would like to introduce my cat, Apollo. He is a free cat, can leave the house whenever he pleases, hunt and roam in the woods behind my house, eat whatever he wants whenever he wants, always has a (relatively) clean litterbox, basically has a free ride for his whole life. If some aliens were hovering above the house observing our relationship, they would probably draw the conclusion that Apollo is my roommate. However, I am responsible for Apollo's interactions with other humans. For example, this spring he got into my neighbor's chicken coop and feasted on some young chicks. My neighbor forunately didn't shoot him and called me instead. I apologized profusely and offered financial compensation, even going so far as to cat-proof my neighbor's chicken coop myself. The consequences for Apollo? A full stomach. Cats are not humans and do not function on the same societal level we do. As a result, we must speak for them and be responsible for them when dealing with other humans. So, although I may not 'own' my cat, in that I dictate what he can and can not do or treat him as property, I 'own' him in the sense that I must represent his interests at the human level, and am responsible for his actions. Most often, cats are considered to be members of the family, not articles of property. But even so, I see absolutely no harm in using the term "owner" in this article. To be honest, there's nothing wrong with "caregiver" either, but I'm guessing the overwhelming majority of Wikipedians would prefer the vernacular. Nobody thinks that saying someone 'owns' a cat is degrading to the cat...what do they care? They're well fed, free to do as they please, and well taken care of...if some human wants to claim ownership of them, they are unlikely to feel offended. In the end, the terminology should be dictated by verifiability. If we had to cite the usage of the word "owner" vs. "caregiver", what are we going to find more of? Of course, you could try a an arbitration committee, but it's painfully obvoius what the result of that would be. If we can't agree on another term, I think there's no harm in using "owner", either to us as wikipedians, or to the cats as living beings. Don't draw connections between owning a cat and owning a slave, because there is nothing remotely similar about the two. I would never describe myself as a cat owner, but a hell of a lot of people would, wouldn't you agree? Antimatter---talk--- 02:14, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Antimatter, do you own any children? David Olivier 08:03, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Dont try to use my argument to prove your point. If my child had raided my neighbors chicken coop, there would have been consequences for him as well. Cats do what cats do. Children are a completely different type of responsibility. We may not "own" cats, but what about dogs and gerbils and fish? We have to draw the line somewhere. do we "co-exist" with them? do we "give care" to them? Do we just "live with" them? Maybe we could argue that humans are "legal guardians" of cats. There are many, many terms that could be used, and perhaps there could be a page somewhere on Wikipedia that deals specifically with the perception of human-feline relationships, but only one or two terms should be used on this page to avoid confusion, and in the interests of behing simple and technical, I don't think there's anything wrong with using the word "own" here. I'm trying really, really hard to stay neutral on this, but it just gets harder when I step back and look at how many spiteful and vitriolic statements have been made over such a trivial subject...Doesn't this just seem ridiculous? I've never offered to mediate a case where I actually felt I was wasting my time. Just let it go...if the vast majority of the English-speaking world says one thing and wants to write it in Wikipedia, why not let them? In the end, if consensus fails on Wikipedia, majority rules. I said some things I don't really mean, sorry. I'm going to ask the quarreling parties to at least attempt a compromise. Both sides should see if its possible to meet halfway, make some offers...stop seeing black and white and flex your positions a little. Let's try to get some love flowing around...there's a lot of hate right now. Antimatter---talk--- 09:06, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
No thanks, the concensus is clearly to keep "owner". If David and Katzenjammer wants to escalate to arbitration, so be it. Dionyseus 09:23, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Antimatter: Why should I not use your argument to prove my point, since it actually does prove my point! You say: "I 'own' him [your cat] in the sense that I must represent his interests at the human level, and am responsible for his actions." If that is the sense in which you own your cat, the word "to own" must equally apply to a young child, if you have one. But you probably would not accept to speak of owning a child. It just shows that in applying the word "owner" to cats, you are asserting something more than "representing them at a human level and being responsible for their actions". You are asserting ownership, you are asserting that they are property, and that is why you refuse to apply it to children - it appears abhorrent to you to consider a child as property.

OK, I shouldn't give you that argument, because you are trying very hard to be neutral - you said that before - and that giving you valid arguments against your... hem... neutrality makes it hard for you to keep your temper. Don't you think it strange to repeat that you are neutral, even though you find it increasingly hard to be? Ah yes, I see you didn't mean to say that, and that you have stricken it out. You know that as an alternative to striking out, you also have a "delete" key on your keyboard? It has the advantage that what you don't want to say, you just don't say it.

I appreciate that you think we should get to a compromise, something that should make all happy. Would you be happy about a page where half the time it says that parents own their children? Now Wikipedia should be neutral; it shouldn't take a stance about whether or not parents own their children. That means that it should not even once use the term "owner" to qualify that relationship; neutrality on this count would imply reporting (if appropriate) that some people believe they own children, and others do not. It does not imply using the very word that implies that half the time!

Middle ground does not mean much in these circumstances. I would appreciate a section in the article about the legal status of cats; stating that for many people and legal systems they are property, and for others they are not. But the term used in the article itself should be a neutral term, one that does not take sides on the issue. There are several out there.

David Olivier 17:37, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Dionyseus: As I already said, at this time I feel I have more important issues to deal with, so I won't go to an arbitration committee. However, I (for one) do not agree with the continued use of the term "owner" in this article. Please don't count me as consenting, and please don't speak of there being a consensus. David Olivier 17:43, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

David, whether you agree with it or not, there "is" consensus on this page for using the word "owner". You have explained your reasons not to agree, and managed to convince few editors. The fact that you stand vocally against the general consensus does not meant there is no consensus, just that you want no part of it. In this respect, it is your right to sit there and watch this train go if you don't want to climb on it. It doesn't change the fact that most editors find the word "owner" appropriate.--Ramdrake 18:13, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
There is a footnote already about the issue. We have tried to show, and have shown to all except you it seems, that "owner" is used in a neutral sense in the article. We have given ample reason as to why it should be used in the article. See also the RfC just above this section for yet more concise reasoning as to why it should be used. We have not seen much, if any, reasoning beyond your claims that it is not neutral, and your twisting of quotes, taken far out of context, to try to prove your point when the original quotes, in their original context, do not. Just because you have connotations to the word "owner" that imply something that you do not like, does not make it any less appropriate for use in the article, and we have tried to offer concessions, like the footnote, as well as my suggestion that someone write a small section (keeping in mind the article's already formidable length) about the issue, but you continue to ignore all attempts to reason with you. This is, quite frankly, getting ridiculous. Consensus does not have to be unanimous, and there is an overwhelming majority in favour of using "owner" in the article in most cases. I do not see why you continue to protest, unless you wish to be considered some sort of martyr for the cause of animal rights in Wikipedia.
Also, you may want to consider using the preview button and keeping your edits to a minimum, such as one reply with paragraphs to the persons you wish to reply to, and possibly learning how to indent your replies to keep the discussion more smoothly lined up, instead of putting it right back to the first space which makes it look rather jumpy. Nique1287 18:18, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Not specifically relevant to the article, but then again this whole debate isn't.... if the cat you are "caretaking" should kill your neighbor's prize chicken, try explaining to the authorities that you are not its "owner" in a real sense. And, related to that, if said cat then gets put on death row as a destructive stray, try having it released to your "caretakership" rather than ownership. Gzuckier 18:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Very well said Gzuckier. In addendum, if the cat you are "caretaking" were to jump on a woman and scratch her face and/or damage her eyes, try explaining to the court that you are not its "owner." Dionyseus 21:07, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Are you two implying that Olivierd is using "caretaker" in order to evade resposibility for his cat's actions? It would be a good way of absolving him of liability for his animal's behaivior, but that's not a constructive argument. Please stay away from each other's throats. Antimatter---talk--- 21:36, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

David, the strike allows me to 'say' something without officially 'saying' it. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, but it's officially on the record as my thoughts at the time (which, I would like to make clear, are not my actual beliefs). I really give you a lot of credit for sticking to your guns here, against all odds. Part of me would like to see you win this battle, and I actually agree with your apprehensiveness to use the word "owner". However, I'm not going to go against the grain here. I'm not one to be offended if other people want to say they own their cats and I'm not going to stick up for an animal that could care less either way. Cats are only semi-domesticated and are capable of surviving in the wild, which sets them apart from other domestic animals. If you read the articles about other domestic animals, the word "owner" is almost always used referring to humans. What about speaking of cats in a possessive form ("my cat") doesn't that imply ownership as well? It certainly implies a relationship ("my wife", "my child"). If you think about it like that, the possessive form of the word would mean that you "possess" a cat as well, and "possessing" and "owning" are very similar. OK if you want me to admit I own my child, then yes I do, in the sense that I own my cat. I'm willing to bend on this one. When cats start organizing a suffrage movement themselves, people might change their minds, but as far as I know there are no feline Wikipedia editors. I will return to the cabal and attempt to find a mediator who sees it your way. In the meantime, perhaps we can solve this by limiting the need to use the word "owner" at all, with some clever wording and grammatical wizardry, it may be possible to nip this in the bud. I could have a crack at it, I like to fancy myself as a good editor, although I'm constantly in fear of an instant revert. That is about as close as I can come to a bipartisan solution. Antimatter---talk--- 21:29, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

That would suit me. David Olivier 21:39, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

You mean like "my car," "my home," etc? Sorry, your argument doesn't work. Dionyseus 21:50, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
no, actually it does...you possess a home and a car, right? possess a wife? a cat? remember, English is a living language, we are shaping and changing its usage all the time. Let's try to be creative for a change. Antimatter---talk--- 21:59, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Or let's not. From the very first post you made here I knew you were in David's side. Dionyseus 22:05, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
So, we're going to be creating some kind of neologism because "owner" is found distasteful to a small minority? What about the right of the majority to be heard on this? What about the preference that should be given to a universal cognate such as "owner"? Do we always have to bend to such a small minority?--Ramdrake 22:07, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Antimatter, if you pursue this line, I think you will find it's best to recuse yourself from this. There is a CLEAR though not unanimous consensus here which one or two editors are hell-bent not to accept, that's it. I don't see why the vast majority needs to mediate to a very vocal, SIG minority.--Ramdrake 22:11, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
This isn't about sides, this is about solving this issue amicably, and Antimatter is doing his best to remain neutral on the issue and provide a solution that will be acceptable to all. We could ask for another mediator, who may be more neutral, though you seem to think that 'neutral' must mean 'taking the majority's side' in this case. Neutral is neutral, and if changing the wording slightly will stop this pointless bickering back and forth, then let the wording be changed, as long as the loaded terms, including (but not limited to) "caregiver" and others suggested by User:Olivierd and User:Katzenjammer, are not used. Nique1287 22:18, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
I appreciate that he volunteers as a mediator, but from what I've seen from his attempts to get us to mediate he hasn't done a good job at being neutral. Saying things like "Part of me would like to see you win this battle" are not things a neutral mediator should say. Dionyseus 22:05, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
OK I give up. Apparently nobody wants my help. Dionyseus, I'm sorry that you think I'm taking sides, I have tried to make it very clear that I'm not. I said "part of me would like to see you win this battle" because I was trying not to scare David into thinking I was against him. I'm not against anybody. Do you understand the concept of neutrality? I thought it meant that both sides understand me and realize I'm operating in the interests of conflict resolution, but now I realize that it means both sides antagonize me. I thought I could come in and be someone everyone could talk to without having to worry about what I thought, but now both sides accuse me of siding with the "enemy". I came here with the best of intentions, and now I'm leaving frustrated. Remember, in that first post, I tried to have a positive attitude? Now I'm bitter and resigned. It's way too late for mediation here. both sides are completely entrenched, and everybody's so damn spiteful towards everyone else. I wasn't trying to change the article at all, I just took this case because I hate seeing Wikipedians hurting each other like this. I got drawn into a bitter argument and became embittered myself. I want you all to know that I don't hold anything against any of you, i'm very proud of what you all are doing. My attempt at mediation has failed, due to the intransigence of the involved parties. Before I go, I will offer my final opinion and 'cast my support' which I was trying so hard not to do this whole time. Regardless of how I describe my relationship with my cat, for the purposes of this article, I'm siding with the 99% who say I own it. Keep the word "own" in. David, I admire you for your opinions here, but just let it go...it's not the end of the world. This debate has already turned one happy-go-lucky mediator into a jaded sourpuss in the span of three days. You can accept the realistic solution and maybe salvage some of your dignity, or you can stick it out and bring this into arbitration. And there is ABSOLUTELY no way you can win it there. I'm sorry. I'll see if anyone else in the cabal wants to come here and commit wikisuicide. As of now I am no longer mediating this case. Have at each other, don't hold back. Antimatter---talk--- 22:54, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

Ramdrake, you seem to want to redefine (Ramdrake 22:11, 15 December 2006 (UTC)) a "consensus" as meaning just the fact that some people agree ("There is a CLEAR though not unanimous consensus here which one or two editors are hell-bent not to accept". OK, a consensus does not have to be unanimous; actually, even just two people can make a consensus. So I agree with you that there is a consensus; and actually there are two consensuses. There is a consensus between those who want to keep the term "owner", and another consensus between those who want to replace it with more appropriate terms. Some editors do not agree with the first consensus, others do not agree with the second. So where does this get us?

I think it would be better to stick to the fact that there is no consensus. There is a majority, but WP is not governed by majority rule. It is governed by specific guidelines. David Olivier 13:15, 16 December 2006 (UTC).

Then, name the specific guidelines that show 1) "owner" is inappropriate and 2) caretaker is appropriate. We need to stop running in circles in this debate and come to a close on it. Most people are already too tired to care to go on with the debate, the RfC is indicating an overwhelming majority of people endorsing "owner" as a legitimate word in the article, so why do you keep fighting a battle you already lost a long time ago? This only serves to increase the size of this debate, and to incense the people who want to see it come to a proper, logical close (if no real consensus can be achived, then majority opinion should win, especially if it's a large majority).--Ramdrake 20:27, 16 December 2006 (UTC)
You seem to fail to understand that a consensus requires at least a majority. Of the two positions outlined above, only one has majority status (even supermajority), so there is but one consensus opinion. Please don't try to twist words to fit yout position. As Antimatter suggested just before he gave up on us, why don't you accept the majority ruling and just get on with your life? I'm sure there are more productive endavors for both you and me It may also help if you read thoroughy the Wikipedia guildeline on consensus and read about the different types of consensus.--Ramdrake 14:34, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Such a debate can only exist due to the audience of this talk page. You guys (no offence here) clearly do not represent a statisticly relevant sample of wikipedia editors (god forbid readers). The people editing and debating tis article are inherently biased. Hence even thinking about the concepts of majority or consensus is totally useless. I can only attest a complete loss of touch with reality, where by the way the common term certainly is owner. --Dschwen 14:50, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Additional materials archived from main talk page - December 16-20, 2006

Put it in WP:LAME. it is a great example.—Preceding unsigned comment added by DMeyering (talkcontribs)

Someone else already beat me to it.--Ramdrake 22:08, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

Who can take the initiative to archive declare a specific debate closed, and archive it? I think it would have been appropriate at least to sign the above comment. Furthermore, I have deleted it from the "LAME" page. There is no reason for such a classification. David Olivier 19:44, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, call it what you want, lame or not, but it's over.--Ramdrake 23:21, 17 December 2006 (UTC)
  • You guys broke your mediator? For shame. Is the discussion over? If so, let me know and I will close the mediation. TheronJ 15:53, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, that's really up to User:Olivierd and User:Katzenjammer. Personally, unless they continue to stubbornly defend their arguments in the face of overwhelming majority (if you count the discussion and the RfC, the count was some 11 or 12 for the use of "owner" as it is in the article, and just those two for changing it to "caregiver") as well as the rebuttals that we have had to repeat as many times as they have repeated their long-since-disproven (to all except them, it seems) and overwhelmed arguments, I see no reason to consider the discussion still open. Nique1287 17:14, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
I've left a note of Olivierd's and Katzenjammer's talk pages asking them if they could consider the matter closed.--Ramdrake 19:40, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

Judging from the history pages, Ramdrake took the initiative to archive the "owner" debate (20:51, 16 December 2006 UTC), and RWR8189 to add it to the LAME ("Lamest edit wars") page.

As far as I can judge, no one asked Ramdrake to do that, and I don't think that is a legitimate move. Perhaps the discussion was not taking us anywhere, but the least you could have done, for civility's sake, would have been to ask for a consensus on that; and perhaps you would have got it. I cannot speak for Katzenjammer, but for my part I have repeatedly said that I did not plan, at this time, to persue the issue eternally. I still would have wanted there to be some explicit trace of the debate on the main page, perhaps a summary of the different side's opinions. But no, it is as if you wanted to suppress the debate entirely.

As I already said, that does not mean I recognize any consensus on the issue nor do I recognize that anyone has "jurisdiction" on this or any page and can declare this or any debate definitely closed. I do not believe that the current state of affairs - that the Cat page implies that cats are owned by humans - is NPOV; it is in my opinion biased and should be challenged again when I or someone else gets around to it.

Concerning RWR8189 linking the debate on the LAME page: the object of that page is to declare a debate ridiculous. Well, there were two sides to the debate, so is RWR8189 declaring both sides ridiculous? Clearly not; his or her first "contribution" to the "owner" debate was: "Describing the relationship as anything other than "owner" is patently ridiculous." Generally speaking, those who are made fun of are the minority. That has nothing to do with NPOV, nothing to do with rational argument, and a lot to do with gang mentality. Yes, it is always easy to declare the minority ridiculous; I find RWR8189's behaviour in this instance despicable.

I don't think that there is anything ridiculous about pointing out that cats (and non-human animals generally) are not considered by everyone as just items of property; and about challenging those who want to have that status woven into every page. I do think that there is something strange about trying to suppress such dissident voices, be it by making the debate disappear from the relevant page, or by trying to put it up as an object of laughter for those who don't care enough to think.

David Olivier 23:31, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

David, if I understand you correctly, (1) you don't plan to start an edit war over "owner/caregiver" on the main cat page, but (2) still strongly believe that you are correct, (3) reserve the right to bring this issue up again later, and (4) feel that your position isn't being treated with respect. Is that about right?
If so, I suggest the following compromise to close out debate for now:
  1. I will prepare a brief summary of both sides of the debate. Once both sides agree that it's fair, I will leave the summary and a link to the archive here on the talk page and mediation page and archive this discussion as well.
  2. We agree not to include the cat debate in WP:LAME at this time.
  3. I will then close the mediation. If this issue comes up again, you guys can always request another mediatior?
Let me know if you agree, or have concerns.
As a closing note, I think the "owner/caregiver" footnoteCat#_note-18 is a good idea. At some point, if the editors can find verifiable and reliable sources on the topic, it may be helpful to write a couple well-sourced, well-written paragraphs on the issue. That way, the article would be more comprehensive and David's perspective would be presented in full to readers.
Thoughts? Thanks, TheronJ 12:44, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

TheronJ, yes, in your points (1), (2) and (3) you have it quite right; except that the term "Edit war" does not seem correct, since on the main page there was only one edit and one reversion; actually, the disagreement was simply discussed, which means that the matter could have ended with some measure of civility.

I agree with your proposal for a compromise.

The footnote may be "better than nothing" but certainly does not settle the matter. I'm not sure your idea of a paragraph on the issue makes much sense, since the issue of non-human animals being seen (by some) as property is not specific to cats. It could be interesting for there to be a page on the legal status of animals, for instance, that could include a discussion about the way animals are termed in common language. But I don't have the time to work on such a page at this time.

Thanks for your efforts.

David Olivier 13:36, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't agree at all that this debate should be removed from WP:LAME, and I don't see how we can come to an agreement on that fact from this page. If anything it would need to be discussed at the WP:LAME page where editors independent of this debate have readded it numerous times. I feel overwhelming consensus was reached on this talk page and I consider the discussion over. And David Olivier may wish to review WP:NPA.--RWR8189 20:15, 19 December 2006 (UTC)


I would welcome an independant page on the legal status of animals, but I don't think this page is the correct forum to debate such status.--Ramdrake 15:03, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
  • David and Ramdrake, I think you've both got a great idea -- when you find the time, I think it would be a great idea to start (or improve, if there already is one) a page on the legal and/or ethical status of domestic pets. Once that page is in operation, I think you can probably come to some agreement on whether and how the cat page should link to the new "ownership/companion" page. Thanks, TheronJ 15:20, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

A page on the legal status of non-human animals (not just domestic "pets"?) is a great idea, but I don't see it as a compromise solution to the current debate. The issue was not that someone wanted the status of non-humans to be debated on the "cat" page, but that the language used on the "cat" page should not imply that the issue of non-human animals being property was solved in one way or another - as the use of the term "owner" does. David Olivier 16:26, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Sure, David -- I absolutely understand that you don't agree with the use of "owner" on the current page, and will do my very best to summarize both sides in case the debate resurfaces -- I just wanted to record whatever it is that everyone can agree on. Thanks, TheronJ 16:41, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
I would just like to point out that, according to everything we've seen here, the opinion that the word "owner" is inappropriate on the page seems to be the opinion of a very small minority, and according to WP:NPOV should not be given undue weight.--Ramdrake 17:13, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Look, Ramdrake, the "very small minority" happens to be some 20 percent of the people who expressed themselves here, which is a sizeable minority by any standard. And what does "giving undue weight" have to do with what appears on a talk page? The issue here is sincere and fair treatment. Is that beyond you? David Olivier 11:19, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

Last time I checked, one in 12 is about 8%. It *is* a small minority. Fair treatment was etended when mention of your views was made in the article footnote. "Undue weight" would be to try and replace nearly all or all iterations of the word "owner" to suit your beliefs.--Ramdrake 12:38, 20 December 2006 (UTC)