Icon on the web, animal admired by the French, the cat fascinates as much as it confuses. Illumination with behaviorist Claude Béata.
Playful but unpredictable, loving but lonely: cats are an enigma, a mystery. In ancient Egypt, they were made gods. In the Middle Ages, they were killed as witches. Today, the cat rules social networks and is the most common pet in France. But it continues to be misunderstood: a dissonance that veterinarian Claude Béata wants to combat. A specialist in behavioral medicine, he strives to highlight animal psychiatry at a time when we are rethinking our relationship with living things more than ever.
In his new book, Madness of Cats, we find that the latter can be affected, in extreme cases, by forms of schizophrenia or bipolarity. But why do they also attack without warning on the sofa or our feet. An enlightening book to better understand them and build a relationship with them in which we too have everything to achieve.
In the video, Jennifer Garner’s failed video demonstration and her cat carrier hoodie
Madame Figaro. – Why do you want to dedicate a book to the “madness” of cats?
Claude Beata. – In France, they are 15 million, almost double the number of dogs. So we see a lot of cases, and I want to appeal not to leave these cats in distress. This is often expressed by inhibition: they move less, hair will grow or disappear. However, cats have a somewhat negative reputation of being autonomous and not requiring much care. What is wrong.
Why are they popular now?
That, because they are beautiful: the very round sides, with big eyes… These are the recipes of the mammalian world to move people, and kittens are former masters in the art of making you want to take care of them. Dogs, meanwhile, suffer media annoyances: in the law on dangerous dogs, certain breeds are singled out. Then, we live in a smaller accommodation, and we are in a country where we can go away sometimes for two or three days at the weekend: it is easier when there is a cat…
Not all cats are mentally ill. But why do we often say they are crazy?
Because we understand them less than dogs, with whom we share a social structure: like us, they have the notion of hierarchy, and they will maintain a human relationship on which they depend, even if it goes badly. With a cat, relationships are “in addition”. We are talking about attachment ties: they can be very strong, but never forced. If a relationship does not suit the cat, he can give it up completely. But this weakness makes the price of the link we established with them.
What would you say to those who believe that animal psychiatry is a useless luxury?
I have a philosopher and veterinarian friend, Philippe Devienne, who responded with a pirouette: “I’m not interested in knowing if animals suffer. I’ll take care of their suffering.” To us, suffering is obvious, objective, we see it every day and our job is to alleviate it. Mentally ill cats are at risk of being abandoned or -euthanize. It is therefore a discipline that can save them and improve the lives of those responsible for them. Of course, animal psychoanalysis is the hallmark of a successful society. But animal welfare has long been considered: in farmers, for example, each animal was called by its name before intensive farming distorted many things. Two years ago, the National Health Security Agency gave this definition: “A positive mental and physical state associated to the satisfaction of physiological and behavioral needs, as well as animal expectations.” This is a definition that proves that the representation we have of the latter, n g his consciousness and his position, has changed. He is no longer an object, but a subject of his world.
How can we better understand cats?
Because they are so different from us, they force us to shift our focus, change our way of thinking. For example, we often use punishment on animals, although fortunately this is less and less. In cats, it didn’t work. This is due to its dual nature of predator and prey. The cat has to hunt, but it is also a weak creature, which forces it to be very suspicious. If we mistreat him, or raise our voice, he will distance himself because his welfare does not depend on us. So we must accept that we cannot force it.
What can we learn from them?
Our love of cats speaks to our changing values in an increasingly stressful society. We need this connection, the love they bring. The anxiolytic properties of pets have been shown: in some cases, a cat has a stroke better than taking Tranxene. They can also teach us to seek reconciliation, which they show when they moan. And teach us a certain idea of self-respect and respect for others: a cat that lands on your lap means that it is comfortable, but that is no reason to fidget with it. That’s why people are surprised when they take care of it but it disappears, or it starts biting. Cats don’t necessarily crave what we crave. Basically, they teach us a lesson in tolerance and being different.