Why Pet Owners Are Not Always Animal Lovers


Why Pet Owners Are Not Always Animal Lovers

Illustration: Akshita Monga


“Our adorable baby has been missing for the last 48 hours. She was last seen near our place in Jayanagar. She is seven and responds to the name Golu.” These lost cat posts have been making a timely appearance on my timeline for a while now. And predictably, the comments section is buzzing with messages empathising with the pet mama’s “trauma”, and tagging friends who might live in the neighbourhood where the pet was last spotted. I got tagged in one such post recently. My first instinct was to reply with, “Frankly, I don’t give a fuck.” Thankfully, better sense prevailed, and I picked a fight with a right-winger in another comment section instead.

Look, it’s time somebody broke this to you. You’re not a cat mom, dog dad, cat person, or even an animal person. You’re just an empty person, trying to fill a void in your life by forcefully trying to rid an animal of its basic instincts by domesticating and infantilising it and then crying foul when they get sick of it and leave.    

Let’s face it, cats leave for a reason. If your cat left you when you weren’t looking, it probably means that it never wanted to stay with you in the first place. Escapes happen when somebody is held captive against their wishes. And now you better fucking feel guilty about the cat’s safety because you have killed its animal instinct to survive in the real world by confining it to four walls.

I personally think dogs and cats have their own set of dreams and ambitions. At their core, they probably want to go out, make friends, chase the sun, chase bikes and cars, hook up, break up, bark at random strangers, and maybe even bite an asshole every now and then. But congratulations, you’ve walked all over their dreams by conditioning them into believing the world outside is dangerous. You’re like that father in Dead Poets Society who forbid Neil from pursuing his love for acting. No, you’re actually worse than that dad. You didn’t even allow your pet to go out there and find a passion big enough to go against your wishes. Instead you forced your pet into a corporate gig, chopped off some of their tails, clipped their ears, and neutered them without giving them a choice. Let’s face it, it’s a mundane life with no real purpose or meaning, just going through the motions. And now it’s too late for them to change. Your pet is used to the security of guaranteed meals, and well, a cushioned life – you gave it a mid-life crisis right from day one. If killing animals is considered animal cruelty, then killing its animal instinct should also be included.

Escapes happen when somebody is held captive against their wishes.

For all the times you went around telling people how much your pet loves you, here’s the spoiler: It probably doesn’t. Your dog loves you just the way you love your dealer. Your eyes light up when you look at the stash, not the person. Even if your pet loves you, it’s because you conditioned it to believe there’s nobody else better than you in the world. You didn’t let it go out there to discover another ideology of animal love or hatred. You regulated the information it received. You curtailed interactions with other animals. You controlled who it fucked, when it fucked, or if it fucked at all. You basically created enough propaganda to make it revere you as its saviour. You’re nothing but a glorified Kim Jong-un to your pet.

A Guardian article titled “Should we stop keeping pets?” says, “From the animals that become dog and cat food and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines, to the goldfish sold by the bag and the crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination. Ultimately, we bring them into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs.”

But what really pisses me off more than all that cat mom bullshit is how having a pet automatically bestows the owner with an “animal lover” badge. I’m not saying don’t get a pet or domesticate an animal, but just remember that domestication doesn’t fetch you a spot in the animal lovers’ hall of fame. You have a transactional relationship with the animal. Like how my grandfather did back in his estate in Coorg. He had a couple of dogs, three cats, a few cows, and a coop full of chickens. He fed them well, but they were expected to serve him – the dogs to bark at strangers entering the property, the cats to keep rodents away, the cow for milk, and the chicken for eggs and its meat. But he never waxed eloquent about his love for animals at social gatherings.

But what really pisses me off more than all that cat mom bullshit is how having a pet automatically bestows the owner with an “animal lover” badge.

This extreme display of affection toward your animal, stems from the fact that you are overcompensating for the lack of effort from your side that yields such disproportionate returns in terms of how the animal feels for you. Or maybe having a pet is the easiest way to satisfy a deep-rooted urge to play God – control an entity that yields to your every command and places its undying trust in you. And the otherwise over-sanctimonious society we live in, has normalised this behaviour and even passed it off as love for an animal.

Have a pet by all means, if you want to. I might have one myself in the future. But treat it like one of the many bad habits you may have in order to get that quick dopamine release like smoking, drinking, and the inability to switch to the next channel when Indra, The Tiger is on TV. Acknowledge this, move on, and stop calling yourself an animal lover. All you wanted was someone to feel an extreme amount of happiness whenever you walked into a room, without working too hard on the relationship.

Just a little Pedigree here and a tummy rub there, and voila you have someone that will fetch you companionship everytime you throw your loneliness at them.