Do you think your pet is lonely and bored? Consider a few facts. The number of pets has risen faster than the number of people in the United States. As such, there are just about as many pets as there are people. Pets have taken over our lives!
Another thing to think about is that we buy our pets a ton of stuff, probably because we try to make them happy and treat them as one of the family. More and more millennials choose pets to raise instead of people. The burgeoning pet industry, worth more than $60 billion in sales every year, feeds this growing segment of the population. It makes sense since raising pets is less expensive and less time-consuming compared to bringing up children.
Bonding with Pets
Because we replace our need for parenting humans with fur babies, we develop strong bonds with our pets. We treat them as we would a human. We feed our pets organic foods, take them to veterinary specialists and even buy them professional massages. We take to the internet to read about the next big thing in the pet world and fawn over the cutest pets on social media.
Veterinarians and psychologists recognize a concept called the “human-animal bond” that has become more prevalent in recent years. Serious scientific studies revealed that pets form deep emotional connections with their human masters. Pets, even beyond dogs and cats, can’t live without their humans. They become anxious when their humans aren’t around. They worry about thunderstorms because they don’t know anything regarding those loud noises coming from outside.
When we aren’t home to spend time with our pets, we can’t exactly drop them off at the sitters to give them stimulation. Although petsitting is a growing segment of the pet industry, spending time with mom and dad just isn’t the same as getting neurological stimulation from an interloping petsitter.
What do we do to compensate for this lack in our pets lives? We buy them stuff. We head to the pet store to find the latest toys, gizmos and even video monitoring gadgets so our pets try to feel less of a sting when mommy and daddy are at the office.
What we may not realize is that the toys and stuff contributes to what scientists call controlled deprivation. Simply put, controlled deprivation means physical comforts, toys, the best food and plenty of water simply can’t compete with what animals are naturally used to in their environments.
For instance, dogs need to feel like they are part of a pack. You are the alpha member of the pack as the dog’s owner. You teach the dog, reward the dog and spend time with dog as he fits into his role in the pack. Meanwhile, cats are nocturnal and need stimulation to hone their latent hunting skills. That’s why playing with your kitties is so important as they lunge for fake mice or start biting your hand when you pet them.
Controlled deprivation moves beyond cats and dogs. Geckos love climbing trees to search for insects and they don’t do well in 10-gallon terrariums. Goldfish naturally swim in rivers and lakes even though humans tend to keep them in bowls hardly bigger than one gallon. Hermit crabs live nearly 30 years and thrive the best in large colonies that have dozens of members. Yet, most people probably go through new hermit crabs every year or so. Pet stores get hermit crabs from the wild because they don’t breed in captivity whatsoever.
The Dilemma of Cats and Dogs
It is, perhaps, easier to quell any thoughts of neglecting pets when they don’t look at us with those longing eyes of companionship. You can’t gaze into the eyes of your goldfish to know what the animal is thinking. With dogs and cats, it’s different. You realize that these creatures have feelings and emotions and that they need you.
Did you ever stop to think that maybe your dog wants to spend more time outdoors rather than indoors? Having a petsitter come over for an hour a day to walk your dog is nice, but is that what your pooch really wants? Dogs love to explore their surroundings. They have keen ears and noses. Stimulating your dog’s senses improves their brain function and their mood. The same goes with cats. Cats need a reason to stay active as they play with fake mice, jump after dust particles caught in a sunbeam and romp up and down the stairs.
Raising a cat or dog takes a lifetime of commitment. These animals live between 10 to 15 years on average. When you’re not there with your pets, they may very well feel alone. Consider what would happen if you left your toddler at home alone for eight to 10 hours per day while you are work? All of the toys in the world can’t replace mommy and daddy’s love.
Keep that in mind the next time you come home exhausted from work. Don’t forget to take time out for your pets if you choose to have one. Otherwise, you might consider forgoing pet ownership until your professional life becomes less hectic.