When a live line becomes a noose

You have to admire any presenter whose show runs like a conducted orchestra. Joe’s leading questions, on Liveline, are like those hands dancing in the air to the sounds they are extracting. The hands that knows the sound before the musician has delivered it. Joe can certainly play people very well. Their drawn out answers are exactly the way he wants the show to go. It just goes down the wrong path sometimes and when it comes to suffering – the comedy path is distasteful and regretful. 

Certain topics shouldn’t be messed with by injecting humour or shock jock OMGs exaggerated words and breaths (Philip Boucher Hayes, filling in for Joe one day, deserves an Oscar for) into. Topics involving suffering should be researched and empathy should be the hand directing the information shared so no more harm should happen to, in this case, feral cats. Otherwise the narrative of ‘sure, it’s only a cat!’ gets spoon fed into the open mouths of those who love to say, ‘I told you so!’ so they can continue to lay poison, continue to dump them, and continue to hate. In the minds of those who ‘I don’t know if I like cats,’ the veiled hate campaign might just win them over. Does hate make better radio? Apparently so. 

If we were to refer to Liveline this week, to determine who is to blame for our country’s woes, one would say ‘feral cats’. Afterall, one did kill Gerry’s fish and he of course decided the best way to deal with his problem and loss was to move the ‘problem’ on. Clever Gerry sacrificed a wheelie bin to make the perfect trap to catch the cat. No, he didn’t take him or her to the vet to check for a chip, or he didn’t put up a notice locally to see did anyone own the cat. Afterall, some of us (God forbid) actually own and love, wait for it…..Feral Cats! Good old Gerry drove the poor trapped cat far away from his territory, his home, and dumped him. Did you know cats are more connected to their territory than their people? Not by choice, but by survival. And then there was Catherine who recorded her newly adopted ‘psycho cat’ sounding so stressed as he tried to make sense of his new home. He was crying because he was afraid. Alot of us cry when really afraid or if we miss where we came from-like all other sentient beings. But Oh, No! He was called PSYCHO and Joe kept playing the sound bite – well, for entertainment of course! Silly me! Now if this was a puppy or a child crying in terror, we would have been all clambering to get on Liveline to express our disgust and upset that they were being laughed at. But not quite so, because it now seems not many of us have a problem with feral cats suffering. And that is the crux of the issue: why hundreds of colonies exist in Ireland and also explains all the solitary little cats that just go around in circles in their territory – maybe afraid to join a colony or not accepted by any or hoping some human might keep the hunger at bay for another day. Alot of people justify their suffering, not just by not liking them, but by hating them.

Nine out of ten hunts fail for cats so can you imagine being weak from hunger and further exhausted by hunting? Now imagine being heavily pregnant. I accept some people genuinely don’t like cats (phobia reasons) but as a staff member said to me in Tesco’s one day as she scanned my 40th tin of sardines in sunflower oil, ‘I don’t like cats, but I would never want them to suffer so I feed a feral cat behind the shop!’ 

Before I finish, I want to end with the lady who began her moment of air time with the line, ‘feral cats can harm people too’. Or maybe she said ‘kill’…anyway, her daughter got a tick off a feral cat. Now, there was no concrete proof of this but given the directed narrative, sure It’s best to be conclusive, and keep in with the argument created: feral cats are bad bad bad. They kill fish, cry when afraid, and there’s just too many of them, for God’s (Joe’s, Philip’s) sake!!!!! Yes, feral cats are now to blame for ticks too. Never mind all the other animals we find them on or the grass we walk in. 

Liveline did no favours to feral cats this week. Feral because they are without a home. Feral because someone somewhere did not neuter their pet cat. Feral is not a title, is not a feared ugly word. Feral is the way they exist to survive. Feral is their fear. Feral is a real struggle. Feral is our problem because we, yes us humans, we created it! And Joe, that is no joke!

8 thoughts on “When a live line becomes a noose

  1. Very well said. Not the first time Live Line have failed to do their research on animal related matters. They don’t bother to verify the identity of some of their callers .

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  2. Excellent article. I don’t usually listen to Liveline but I was travelling with my brother in his car last Friday and heard the woman complaining. about her poor cat whom she called “Psycho”. My heart went out to this unfortunate cat and I felt very angry with this woman who made no attempt to understand why he or she was crying. I also felt annoyed with Joe who made a joke of the situation.

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    1. Thanks Mary for reading. Yes, I also found it very upsetting & they kept replaying the poor cat crying instead of looking at what could be done to ease his stress. And giving him the name psycho made it all worse. Here’s to more compassion for cats.

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  3. What a brilliantly written and totally moving post Catriona. Shocking to perpetuate the myth that feral cats are dangerous. So many here come in as ‘feral’ when what they are is fearful. So dreadful to live in fear. Most of these fearful cats end up in the house and sitting on my lap.

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    1. Thank you. I think a lot of people are still pretty upset by last weeks show. It incited hatred towards cats one day! And then a comedy made of their stress another day and then featured a man who dumped a cat he did not own!! So I guess we need to keep flying the truths about ferals flag!

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  4. Thank you so much. I was distraught & disgusted listening to Live line on feral cats & even more so at the lack of passion, even conviction, in the spokesperson who came on from the DSPCA . Gerry with his bin trap & fish-pond, was given so much uninterrupted air-time to really drive home his lesson in how to get rid of cats, some probably his neighbours. I wonder how many tiny helpless kittens have starved to death waiting for the mother that Gerry gleefully dumped miles away.
    I’m sure many of us were thoroughly sickened by the lack of compassion or balance or even intelligence in the programme, but either could not get on live-line, or as in my case , would be very reluctant to try to get any point across that is contrary to Joe Duffy’s agenda.

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    1. Thanks Maureen for the message. You know I totally forgot about the possibility of kittens. And ironically there was outrage over the poor puppy a few days later but less outrage that a grown man dumped an animal that was not his. It’s deeply upsetting & I keep that cat in my thoughts – hoping someone somewhere has been kind to him or her. All we can try do is be that other rational empathetic voice for their sakes. Joe does pick and choose when to show empathy… and that’s disappointing….

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