People who do not love animals are often cynical about those of us who do. They see pet parents treating their pets like humans, and believe that it is overkill. The common idea among these kinds of people is that humans anthropomorphise their pets, leading to ridiculous beliefs and behaviors.
There is some truth to this. After all, every one of us knows that sometimes we attribute emotions to our pets that they might be incapable of feeling. We imagine that they see the world in the same way that humans do.
However, there are many ways that pets resemble humans, and it is important to acknowledge which anthropomorphisms are necessary.
Here are 3 ways pets resemble humans (and 3 ways they don’t).
Pets need good health care…
Cynics often point to how much money people spend on their pets. Do dogs and cats really need regular checkups at the vet and expensive procedures to treat ailments?
Many pet owners take this idea to heart and end up doing their pets an injustice. Instead of having regular checkups, they only take their pets to the vet when something is obviously wrong. Instead of getting a healthcare plan, they leave their pets’ well being up to chance.
This is why many people ask is pet insurance worth it? The simple answer is of course. Just like humans, your pets will inevitably have to get treatment. Vet bills are incredibly expensive and by writing off pet insurance as a vanity, you’re only setting yourself up for financial strife when the time comes.
…but be wary of pet psychologists
Pets have emotions and neuroses, just like humans. However, their experience of the world is fundamentally different from ours, and any pet therapists or psychologists who do not acknowledge this are only wasting your time and money.
There are excellent pet behaviorists out there, but there are many frauds and kooks who sell themselves as pet psychologists. If they claim to know what your pet is thinking or attribute emotions that are uniquely human to them, you should not spend your hard-earned cash for the service.
Pets have different mental processes to humans, and therefore have different problems. Too much anthropomorphism can lead you to get the wrong type of help. Also, avoid pet psychics at all costs!
While we’re talking about the mental well being of our pets, it is important to address the topic of trauma. Anyone who has adopted a rescue knows that the traumas it went through in its early life remain with it.
This is important to acknowledge as a pet owner. It should inform the way you treat your pet. If they cower the moment someone raises their voice, for example, that is never going to be a good way to deal with their misbehavior.
The comparison between human trauma and pet trauma is useful. However, it is important to remember that they process trauma very differently. While humans have come up with ways of processing trauma through talk therapy, exposure therapy, and other means, these methods are not going to work with pets.
Instead of trying to change their memory of trauma, adapt your behavior. Comfort them when they get scared, and avoid acting in ways that trigger their trauma response.
Many cynics will insist that your pets don’t love you, they simply know who feeds them. Any pet owner knows that this is not true. Pets feel love and they express it in a number of ways.
Of course, they experience this emotion differently to humans and probably do not think about how much they love someone, the way people do. But that does not make their love any less legitimate.
Knowing that your pet loves you makes it difficult to make certain life decisions for yourself. In some cases, your pet should definitely be a part of those decisions. If you are moving with your whole family, for example, you should do what it takes to bring your pet with you.
However, if you are going overseas to work or study, while the rest of your family is staying behind, don’t feel too guilty about your pet’s love for you. They will struggle to adapt for a few days, but their experience of loss is very different to the human emotion.
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