Before, I begin, I go over some pre-existing discussions related to feeding strays on this website. We have here, a discussion on ethics of feeding vs neutring, and here on ethics of supporting of groups of opposite interests. This question is mainly a variant of the first post, but with a mix that neutring is no longer available.

My situation is as follows, I live in a place where the temperatures are too hot for cats to roam outside, and, there is no free places/ government supported places to neuter cats. In fact, there are no such things as feral cats where I live, because the cats are all imported. Now, I've been feeding this certain cat for a long time now, due to me finding an emotional attachment to it.

Recently the cat gave birth to four kittens, and now I am starting to have the impression that I am prolonging the suffering of the cat, and it's children by continously supporting it's existence, because, I am leaving from this country soon, and with it giving birth, there is the collective suffering of five cats living in this harsh climate.

Considering all this, would it be ethical for me to support the cats?

Putting this outside of the context I put here, would it be ethical for some sort of "god figure" to prolong the suffering of it's direct/indirect creation?

If the above generalization of the question has issues, kindly ignore it. If the issue of it is noted in the comment, I will remove it as soon as I can.


  1. I would appreciate if people didn't try to reverse engineer where I live from this post!

  2. I do not consider myself as god, but I think for all practical purposes, in this case, there is an element of me being a transcedental entity over the cat. Related post

  3. This question discusses possibility of Evil in general, but it is different from mine here, because I wish to discuss about "what would be evil?".


After checking, sadly neither oral contraception is possible as megastrol is not available where I live.

  • This question is too vague and subjective. What is the alternative to suffering? Death? What sets of circumstances are under discussion? What standard of morality are we assuming? May 28, 2023 at 5:22
  • "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma "We are not punished for our sins, but by them." - Elbert Hubbard. I don't think the cats would choose death. But, try to be a responsible deity: alleycat.org/…
    – CriglCragl
    May 28, 2023 at 11:03
  • That was a pretty good idea, and it seems to be avaialble where I live. Altho that kills the framing of the question here, still thanks
    – Babu
    May 28, 2023 at 11:10
  • 1
    This is a question about life advice, not philosophy. This site is not a good place to ask.
    – tkruse
    May 28, 2023 at 18:53
  • 1
    See pets.stackexchange.com as a better place to ask for advice and emotional support. Philosophy is more for asking about what Aristotle or Nietzsche may have written about a topic, which does not appear to be the OPs main concern.
    – tkruse
    May 28, 2023 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


"Considering all this, would it be ethical for me to support the cats?" It's too late. You've already started supporting them. In any case, you have an attachment. You'll feel terrible if you just walk away. If you can continue to support her until the kittens are grown, that would be kind. If you have to go abroad, find a cat sanctuary, or an equally cat-loving neighbour. Failing that, given she is wild already, they stand a decent chance of surviving.

Have you considered the possibility she has another home? Cats have been known to do that. Sometimes they do it because their existing home is terrible. Sometimes they do it because they like a second home.

On the general question I don't have a determinate answer. It is good to help those who need help. Temporary or partial support is better than no support. There is an unclear border between helping someone a bit, enabling them to start over and resolving someone's life problems for life. Resources are always limited.

Actively and deliberately prolonging suffering is cruel, whether one is a god-figure or not. (I don't think your cat thinks you are a god-figure. I think she thinks you are a person who gives food to cats.) Prolonging suffering negligently is also cruel. But giving some food to a wild animal (specially in hard times, like the winter) isn't cruel unless you allow them to become dependent on you. Then you have a responsibility not to suddenly cut off the supply - at least reduce it gradually so they have a chance to adjust.

  • I share the sentiments, but the problem is still, this doesn't give any delination of when help is correct and not. Ho
    – Babu
    May 28, 2023 at 10:46
  • 1
    I'm not going to even begin to attempt anything general. But surely it is clear that if you buy a pet or accept one as a gift or allow it to take up residence in your home , you have accepted responsibility. If you feed an animal from time to time, i.e. as a visitor, you have not. If you provide a regular supply of food, but don't provide shelter, you should not cut it off abruptly. IF you regularly see an animal about that is clearly suffering, you should provide what resources you can. It's not about rules. Just pay attention to the compassion you actually feel.
    – Ludwig V
    May 28, 2023 at 13:16
  • @HopefulWhitepiller The hard question is whether to begin helping in the first place. After starting, one is committed, as you say. This is probably why people avoid homeless people, etc. We can't just 'help'' the entire world.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jun 27, 2023 at 13:47
  • You're right. Though there's probably a mixture of motives. I think that if people are confident about what to do as a short-term helping hand, more of them would not just walk past. It's a difficult problem - on both sides.
    – Ludwig V
    Jun 27, 2023 at 16:38
  • I recall a definition of "unhelpful helping" which is an action that causes the recipient to remain in the same situation. Help should bring about positive change, otherwise it is just prolonging suffering. Although a better option might be possible in the future, so sticking around is usually preferable.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jun 27, 2023 at 23:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .