Cat on a string anyone? The truth about pet care in Thailand

When I was growing up in England in the 1970s and 1980s our family always owned cats.

Cat Flaps

Owning cats was really popular back then and England was a bit less crowded than it is now and people (even poor ones) mostly had something which could be described as a garden, even if nothing resembling a plant actually grew in it. You would have a flap which you installed into the hole you roughly cut into your back door and the cat would come and go as it pleased. This largely meant turning up when it was hungry and when it wanted to sleep somewhere warm, for example on a person’s lap.

Cats On a Leash In Thailand

I took this picture at Bang Sue train station on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Cat on a lead at Bang Sue Station Bangkok
Cat on a lead at Bang Sue Station Bangkok

There are cats on a lead (normally a piece of string) all over Thailand. Every town or city you go to you see them. Just take a look under any vending cart or outside a few city centre shops and it won’t take you long to find a cat tied up and looking distinctly unhappy.

Peculiar To Thailand?

My first reaction to this is that I thought it was cruel. Cats should be allowed to roam free, as they did through the cat flap in my home when I growing up, and this was just another another example of people in a ‘developing’ country mistreating their animals. However, do a search into this subject on the internet and you will find millions of words written on the subject of cats on a string (OK a lead, but it is the same thing) and more surprisingly most of this literature advocates the practice. Blow me down. It appears I have had this wrong all along. The Thais aren’t being cruel to their pets by tying them up after all, it was me being cruel for not putting the seemingly happy Mr Tiddles on a lead. All that freedom my cats had was just wrong.

What It Says On The Internet

I am not going to provide a full summary of all the articles on the internet about this subject (Shakespeare wrote less about the Kings and Queens of England and boys in tight trousers) but I would like to direct you to a few articles of particular note:

Article 1: wikiHow’s 9 step guide to putting a cat on a leash

Give it a read. There are diagrams to accompany it. Note if you will the happy looking expression on the cat’s face. Proof, were it ever needed, that a cat on a piece of string is a happy cat.

Article 2: The New Yorks Times article Nine Lives, One Leash

High brow stuff from a top quality newspaper. The name of the ‘cat behaviourist’ referred to in the article (Mr Galaxy) I think says everything you need to know. And how the f*ck do you become a cat behaviourist anyway? Is there a university course you can do? Does it pay well? So many questions left unanswered by this article. The New York Times should consider a weekly supplement dedicated to this issue to accompany all that pointless stuff they write about politics and international affairs.

Article 3: For a more balanced and alternative view perhaps it might, however, also be worth considering the advice given in the article entitled Is Walking Your Cat On A Lead As Crazy As It Sounds ?:

it just may not be an appropriate choice for your cat

Really? A demonstration of expert knowledge if ever there was one.

Evidence On You Tube

To finish our in depth analysis of pet care practices in Thailand, I would like to leave you with a You Tube video about the practical problems you might encounter putting a cat on a piece of string:


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