I feel like in the past decade, we as humans have been airing our dirty laundry en masse, the world over.
From YouTubers opening up about anxiety, depression, and other metal health issues, celebrities opening up about drug addiction, bipolar disorder, and even PTSD to less savoury thoughts and socially unacceptable opinions being printed in newspapers, aired over radio-waves, spoken about in vlogs and podcats, and published on self-hosted blogs all over the web – there’s no end to the openness that can be found these days while even a few short years ago, taboo topics of discussion would rarely see the light of day, let alone be given the limelight for their fifteen minutes.
One topic that still hasn’t gotten very much visibility and discussion? Hating your pet.
Two Types of Pet Hatred: One That Can Be Resolved, One That Can’t
I’ve spoken a lot about this topic before within the context of hating your pet cat (this is a cat blog, after all), and the types of things you can do to remedy the situation if you find yourself unfortunately in it. I don’t think pet parents set out to hate their pets, and so I definitely don’t think feeling resentment toward your pet makes you a bad person. I think resentment just builds up sometimes, due to a slew of varying reasons – from being frustrated over the destruction of your favourite furniture by kitty claws to being consistently sleep deprived due to incessant night time or much-too-early-in-the-morning meowing.
Unless you do your best to combat your hatred of your pet by being proactive in identifying and fixing the things that caused the resentment to build up in the first place, you’re likely to create a toxic environment, not just for yourself, but for your pet as well. So while I don’t think you’re at all a bad person for having negative thoughts about your pet, I don’t believe you should just sit around accepting these feelings and do nothing to remedy them.
There is one distinctive type of pet hatred, however, that stands out from the rest and truly can’t be resolved in any which way. It’s a type of pet hatred for the furry thing under your roof that really has nothing to do with the particular pet in question, but has everything to do with the fact that you’ve got a dependant that needs you take care of everything in their life for them. It’s a resentment based on the fact that responsibility is stressful, and life would actually be easier without your pet.
I’ll get into my thoughts about this particular type of pet hatred soon, but first I’d like to mention, that – to me – it sounds a lot like sometimes resenting and hating your own flesh-and-blood human child, which has actually been discussed a lot more these days even by mainstream media sites like the Daily Mail. There are times you may hate your own offspring for concrete reasons, sure: your kid does things you disapprove of, you get frustrated with their behaviour, or you’re unfortunate enough to be the parent to a kid whose personality just doesn’t gel well with your own. But more often than not, momentary hatred and resentment seems to stem from the fact that – while people love their children – they also dislike the fact that having children at all has taken up so many resources (money, time, energy), created so much extra stress, exhaustion, and worry in their parent lives, and even can come down to a feeling of being trapped, unable to do as one pleases, due to the massive responsibility and types of needs children have. See why I feel this variety of pet hatred is in the same vein?
You’re Not a Bad Person, Even If You Feel the Second Type
But telling people you resent having a pet, or that you sometimes hate your pet, is never looked upon positively. I actually find this unfortunate, because a lot of times, the momentary resentment is just an acknowledgement of the truth of the matter: that the responsibility of taking care of another’s life is enormous, and that there are downsides to it that never go away so long as the pet remains in your custody and care. In the perfect words, Kailey described in a comment on one of my posts, how this type of pet hatred made her feel – and how it didn’t at all disappear just because she loved her particular pet to bits:
I love cats, but I never asked for a cat. Never went out of my way to look for one. Never expressed a need to actually own a cat. Yet my boyfriend at the time surprised me with a cat one night. In a combination of fear of hurting his feelings and shock and excitement I accepted the gift. Don’t get me wrong, I love him so much. He’s a sweet cat. He cuddles, plays fetch, never bites or scratches.
But I resent him so much sometimes.
It’s so much money I never planned on spending. So much stress when he starts meowing at the top of his lungs at 3 am when I work early. I’ve laid on the floor mid mental breakdown pleading with him to shut the hell up so he didn’t wake up my toddler brother. I love travelling and spontaneity and I can’t just skip town when I want because I have a cat-child. Eventually when I move out of my parents house (I’m 20) I’ll have to look for a place that will allow pets and that will limit my options and raise prices. I’m just not one for long term commitment. Especially ones I never whole heatedly signed up for.
The thing is, I could never ever give him up because I love him so so so much. He is my heart. I miss him like he’s my child when I’m away. He genuinely makes me happy, I just can’t help but know that life would be easier without him. And I feel sick even writing that cause I feel like a horrible horrible person. I’m so conflicted. Someone please tell me if this is okay or not.
I could never look at Kailey or those who feel the same as her as though they’re horrible people – or as though they’re thinking thoughts that are not okay. Why? Here was my response to her comment:
Let me tell you, I don’t see anything crazy, weird, or even bad about what you’ve said. What you’re doing in my eyes is stating the obvious: that pets are a double edged sword because with the joy they bring us, they also bring us terribly big responsibility as well. Actually, your comment is reminiscent to me of a number of different articles I’ve read about people sometimes regretting having children, who love their children to bits, but do mourn the sacrifices they’ve had to make to have them.
Do I think these thoughts and emotions are common? Fleetingly, yes, but for the most part no, but here’s why: I think when most people take on a responsibility they appreciate the upsides for, they do their best to ignore all the downsides as much as possible to make peace with the situation and feel like they’ve made the best choice. Obviously, you didn’t choose to take in your cat, but even if you did, you sound to me like the type of person who is hyper rational and hyper aware of all the factors that go into any specific decision at any time, and that’s what’s causing you to look at the positives and negatives equally – you’re too rational not to do so.
Negatives of owning cats exist. Plenty do and there will always be many around. These are exacerbated every time you want to do something a bit out of the box (the box being keeping in one place with your cat). My husband and I moved from Canada to the UK a few years ago. Figuring out which flights we could take with him was annoying as hell, the anxiety of doing all the paperwork (which was quite a bit) and the actual travelling to get him here was no cup of tea for us either (my cat didn’t care much, but it was hugely stressful for the two of us). When we got here, finding a flat we could have him in wasn’t easy, and we still deal with the daily frustration of living in a country with no window screens while having an indoor cat. Now we’re moving to Portugal so to an extent we’re doing it all over again (though it’s much easier this time), and have to each time we move to a new house, let alone a new country – it can absolutely be exhausting at times.
But times are changing and there are a lot more of us pet owners around, so the world is beginning to cater to us. Landlords are becoming more accepting out of necessity, especially with cats and small dogs, there are more and more people willing to stop over and take care of a pet for you on vacation if you do the same for them. And there are a lot more toys and products out there that help us take care of feline boredom, litter smells, and other issues we indoor-only cat owners face regularly. But there will always be that baseline worry over the responsibility of caring for another’s life that will be there. And it will be true no matter how much the world changes.
You should not feel sick writing that your life would be easier without him. Because it would. That’s just a fact of life and if the rest of us choose to ignore it so we can feel a bit better about the sacrifice, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer there. But you choose to keep him because making your life easier is not likely to make you happier – well that’s enormous. If the responsibility – which is huge – is outweighed by the enhancement loving him and him loving you brings to your life, well that’s the trade off we have to make with nearly anything in life. Nothing worthwhile ever comes without a cost, the question is only ever whether what you have outweighs how much it costs you, and if you feel the answer is yes, then that’s that.
But I would advise you to do your absolute best to make the negatives of having your cat far less present in your life. You said your cat wakes you up at 3 AM – that’s a situation I was in when Avery was a kitten. It’s hellish. Really is difficult to function and not resent a cat that’s depriving you and family members of sleep. But you can actually change this behaviour with training, and I’d encourage you to do so. If you have any nagging problems with him, do your best to try researching how to train him to resolve those. Because yes, you have an enormous responsibility when it comes to caring and looking after your pet, but it absolutely does not have to mean you need to suffer through a lot of the bad habits cats can develop. I have a bunch of posts about training cats here and if he has any behaviours I haven’t written about that you’d like to train him out of, let me know, but don’t let the status quo be enough; make your life with him as good as you can make it. And if you’re worried about something in particular, do some research to make the worry and fear over it less powerful.
Research about renting with a cat, email a bunch of landlords and ask about if they’d accept a cat, maybe the situation’s a lot more resolved than you expected. Think you may travel in the future? Ask friends and family you have if hypothetically they would be willing to stop by and house sit for you while gone. Put out feelers to alleviate stress, even if you’re not going to do any of these things in the near future. Put your mind at ease with facts that you may not need now, so you don’t feel trapped and you always know the truth, which is that you have options. This technologically advanced, pet friendly world we’re heading into now is not going to get rid of every responsibility we have when it comes to our pets, but laundry machines, vacuums, and dishwashers made life a lot easier for those looking after a household, and technological breakthroughs can do the same for those looking after pets. I think the progress that’s been made has been great thus far, and it’ll only get better with the popularity of pets on an enormous rise.
Those are my thoughts, and now it’s your turn – what do you think?
Your Thoughts on Sometimes Hating Your Own Pets?
Do you think people who hate their pets sometimes are bad people? Do you think it’s okay and completely natural and human to feel resentment toward one’s own pets sometimes?
Have you ever resented one or more of your own pets? Has it been due to a particular problem? If so, what sparked that frustration? Have you ever been angry or resented your pet because of the second kind of pet hatred I was talking about – out of frustration for the responsibility being a pet owner brings? How would you express your thoughts when these feelings crop up?
I would love to hear any and all thoughts you have on the topic down below in the comments!