chapter  4
14 Pages

Wherever I lay my cat? Post- human crowding and the meaning of home

ByTora Holmberg

To be one is always to become with many. Donna Haraway, When Species Meet

Urban animals are often the subject of complaints; they transgress our sense of cultural order, while roaming uncontrolled in the city. But they are similarly turned into objects of care, conservation practices, and bio-political interventions. Controversies over such animals are thus to be expected, when these two ‘frames of meaning’ (Goffman 1974) collide. This chapter discusses a specifi c area of controversy, namely the management of cats in urban settings. On the basis of interviews with animal police, animal welfare inspectors, so-called ‘animal hoarders’, cat rescuers, and shelter workers, as well as complaint fi lings and other documents, I investigate a number of debates related to the process of ‘becoming with many’ cats and the norms of appropriate pet keeping in the city. The phenomenon raises a number of questions: How are ‘homeless’, ‘feral’, and other categories produced, and with what consequences? What is the role of ‘home’ and other places in defi ning and handling various categories of urban cats?