The Curious Listener: Balance Of The Species

Aug 16, 2013
Originally published on October 1, 2013 11:52 am

If we've learned one thing this summer it is that NPR listeners sure love their dogs. But what about our feline friends? Aren't they equally deserving of the limelight?

One Curious Listener thinks so. And he wrote us to say that he hasn't heard enough positive cat stories on NPR.

As we do strive to cover every side of a particular topic in our reporting, our Listener Services team did a little research and found several recent, positive stories about cats after all. (Can't get enough of these cat stories? You'll want to get your own copy of NPR Driveway Moments: Cat Tails available in the NPR Shop.)

Check out this exchange between our Curious Listener and the Listener Services team member and judge for yourself: does NPR exhibit species balance in our reporting?

I am a frequent listener to NPR, as well as someone who's involved in cat rescue, and I have a question for you: Why are cats *only* represented in a negative light in stories on NPR? Every time I hear cats mentioned on NPR these days, it's either the junk science of cats killing "billions" of birds or reports that represent them as toxoplasma vectors even though the majority of human cases are contracted through improperly cooked food.

In contrast, you've presented several interesting reports and interviews representing dogs as man's best friend that delve deeply into the science of domestication. I haven't seen it mentioned, in that context, that 2012 was a record year for fatal dog attacks (37) on humans in the U.S. I wonder how many fatal cat attacks on humans there were during that same period... How about a little species balance in your reporting? All the negative press does not help those of us who spend lots of our own money trying to facilitate adoptions.

Raleigh, NC

Dear David,

Thank you for contacting NPR.

It is never our intention to constantly shine a negative light on such loveable animals. NPR strives to show the importance of cats in not only pop culture, but also throughout American History. Although we try to do our best, we can never truly cover the greatness of cats.

We are always delighted to hear from listeners.

Thank you for listening to NPR, and for your continued support of public broadcasting. For the latest news and information, visit


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