SEOUL, Korea, Sep 14 (Korea Bizwire) – According to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries on September 7 based on a research project commissioned to the Korea Social Economic Institute, the number of house cats in Korea has almost doubled in two years to 1.16 million in 2012 from 630,000 in 2010. The study revealed that as many as 3.59 million households, 17.9 percent of all households in the nation, raise pets, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, and reptiles. Of these, young women in their ages between 20 and 39 tend to prefer cats. The reason these women like cats better than dogs is cats are relatively independent and thus easier to care for.
Given in most industrialized countries in Europe and North America there are more cats than dogs, the same pattern will repeat in Korea within several years from now. But the problem is you can’t adopt a cat just because you are lonely and a cat will make an excellent companion. Cats, young and old, may cause serious problem if they are abandoned by their human caregivers. Stray cats transmit disease and stink up a neighborhood by tearing open garbage bags for food leftover. Even if some of them are lucky enough to be housed in animal shelters, they force local governments to pay for feed and medical cost.
In 2011, as many as 39,195 cats were reported abandoned, up 49 percent from 26,248 in 2008. The total number of abandoned pets in 2011 was 96,000, up almost four times from 25,000 in 2003. These figures show that the level of cultural sophistication related to pets has not caught up with the rising number of pets adopted by families.
According to animal shelter officials, typical answers to a question “why do you want to give up your pet?” are, “She was so cute when she was small but now she got too big and I can’t handle her anymore,” “I adopted her because I was too lonely but I can’t care for her as I don’t stay home a lot,” “I had to spend too much for medical cost,” and “Other family members didn’t like her,” and so on.
To keep pet abandonment to a minimum, animal clinics and animal right advocacy groups are actively pursuing campaigns to educate pet owners. To help the cause, the government began mandating registration of dogs from January this year. Anyone who does not register their dog over 3 months old is liable to pay fines of up to 200,000 won. But the government has not instituted the same scheme to cats, which may be why so many people still feel free to abandon their cats.