Perhaps you’ve noticed how many people treat their pets like little humans. It’s a growing trend in the United States. Pet owners treat their fur babies like children researching the best foods to feed them, using unique bowls to enhance the enjoyment of their pet’s meal, or signing up their pet for doggie day classes while at work. According to psychologists, it’s a unique moment in human history.
Science explains why people treat their fur babies like little humans.
Why Some People Treat Their Fur Babies Like Actual Humans
1 – Fur babies make cuddly companions
Pets are cuddly little companions. They love to be held, scratched, and tickled. There are many benefits to having a pet in your life. Researchers found when you hang out with your pets, it lowers your blood pressure and decreases your cortisol levels. So take some time to cuddle with your cute kitty or snuggle with your Schnauzer. It’ll boost your mood, so you feel happier.
2 – Animals make you feel needed
Your pets need you. Caring for your pet triggers a protective, nurturing instinct inside of you. When you provide food, exercise, and housing for your pet, you feel needed by them. It validates who you are in a certain way. According to psychologists, validation is essential for humans. You need to know someone in your life requires you. Except for your relationship with parents or other family members, your human relationships may change. But pets give you a sense of unconditional love. Once you have a bond with your pet, it lasts.
3 – Fur babies ease your loneliness
Your fur babies keep you company. People with a pet feel less lonely than those who don’t have a pet. More than half of pet owners say they think it’s easier to socialize when they have their pet with them. Your four-legged friends give you someone to “talk” to when you’re alone. They interact with their body and face. Having fur babies for company can chase away your loneliness and increase your sense of well-being.
4 – It runs in your family
Have you ever noticed that keeping a pet runs in families? If you had pets growing up, there is a good chance you’ll own a pet as an adult. Your parents often hand down pet keeping. Being raised with animals helps you feel comfortable around them. You develop intuitiveness about what they need or want. Having a furry buddy in your life may be so natural that you can’t imagine life without your little fur babies.
5 – Or love for furry, feathered, or finned friends could be in your genes
Some people seem predisposed to enjoy being around animals. While others naturally love animals no matter how they were raised or taught as a child. Researchers think there could be a genetic link for people who naturally love animals. They aren’t sure which genes are responsible for making you feel a special love for animals, but genetics and the environment play a part in your feelings. No wonder you treat your little fur babies like little humans. It’s in your DNA.
6 – It’s a great habit to have
Maybe you’ve always had a pet in your life. Pet keeping may be a habit for you. This is because you feel most comfortable around pets. You may have experienced the many benefits of having a dog or cat in your life, and it’s caused you to naturally choose to always have a pet or two or three around your home.
7 – Dogs are a natural alarm system
If your dog barks when someone comes to your door, they act as a natural alarm system. They’re trying to let you know there’s an “intruder” in their territory. Although this can be annoying when it’s just your neighbor stopping in to say hello, if it’s a burglar, you’ll be grateful for your noisy pet. Burglars say that giant dog breeds that bark loudly cause them to avoid a home when they choose a place to rob. When you know your pet is protecting your home, it makes you to treat them like family.
8 – Fur babies are sometimes a trade-off for parenting kids
Studies found that people’s investment in their pets is like how parents invest in their kids. Non-parents nurture their fur babies as a trade-off for parenting children but don’t see them as substitutes. According to researchers, this is a novel application of parenting. Researchers say this is a unique evolutionary puzzle.
9 – Lifestyle choices
Globally, fertility rates are down. Urbanization and an increased interest in education contribute to this phenomenon. These significant changes in how people work, live, and socialize have created new values of individualism over family choices. Many people find fur babies to be good companions for their flexible lifestyle choices.
10 – Fur babies help you prepare for kids…sort of
Pet owners who are parents of young kids compare raising a child and a pet. They may see both roles as being a nurturer, protectors, and providers to both their children and pets. But those same parents expressed surprise that caring for kids was much more involved than caring for a pet. Humans aren’t as easy to deal with compared to animals.
So, the ways you love your sweet pet may help you, to some extent, get ready for a human baby, but in other ways, fur babies aren’t as much work as a child.
11 – Pets bring joy to parents of older kids
People with older kids don’t relate to their pets like people without kids. They have fewer concerns about disciplining or training their pets. They also don’t focus on the similarities of raising kids and pets. Interestingly, it seemed like this group had the most joy and satisfaction from having a sweet pet and children. Raising them together seemed to bring a sense of satisfaction and happiness into their lives.
Should People Treat Fur Babies Like Humans?
As much fun as it is to treat your sweet pet like a baby, it’s probably best to let them be. Animals have their uniqueness; if you humanize them, you’re taking away their origin. Forcing animals to do things they wouldn’t usually do may be helpful and stress them.
Here are some mistakes to correct when rearing a dog or cat.
Love isn’t food.
Seeing food as love isn’t healthy for humans or dogs. Obesity is a growing problem for dogs and cats. Your pet may gobble up your gooey ice cream treat, but it’s not healthy for them. Even if they stare at you while you’re eating, don’t cave in. Please give them a treat especially made for them, not humans.
Skip the pet clothing.
Don’t dress up your cat or dog. It looks funny to you, but it causes stress to your animal. Be aware of your pet’s language. Skip the hats, capes, and raincoats that you think look so sweet on your pets. Many pets suffer in silence while their owners laugh at how cute they look. This practice isn’t kindness. Even if your pets seem okay dressing up, avoid clothing. Let them be animals.
Let them sniff stuff.
Dogs and cats instinctively need to smell. It’s how they understand the world around them. Give them time outside to sniff the grass, other dogs, and the pavement.
It’s okay for them to obey their instincts.
It’s easy to get so caught up in treating your pet like a fur baby that you forget to allow them to obey their instincts. Cats like to stalk and hunt. They need to be allowed to do this. Dogs like to hunt and protect. Honor their instincts.
Your pet doesn’t think like you.
It’s easy to assume your dog or can thinks like you. Animals evolved from animals, not humans.
Dogs and cats can learn when it’s time to be fed, exercised, or go to bed. This isn’t because they decided this is a good idea. Because they’re creatures of habit, you establish these times for them. Be sure you allow them to be the beautiful animals they are. Avoid projecting human thinking abilities on them.
Train your pet.
Pets, especially dogs, need training. Fur parents who train their dogs have a stronger bond with their furry friends than with untrained dogs. If you’re treating your dog like a baby, you may not set boundaries for them. If you don’t punish your dog when misbehaving, you’re not teaching them. Some researchers say that humans putting “too much” love onto their pets can put too many expectations on them. This puts pressure on the animal and can confuse them.
Final Thoughts on People Treating Fur Babies Like Actual Infants
Pets have a special place in our lives. You may love cuddling with your cat or playing ball with your dog. It’s essential to figure out the balance between loving your pet unconditionally and treating them like animals. They are a different species than human beings and value being who they are without needing to be turned into little humans. Treating your fur babies like little humans may not be wrong if you learn to set boundaries and avoid feeling like they think and do things like you.