I’ve written on the topic of hating or resenting pets a number of times in the past before, my first article on the topic from back in 2018 quite literally being titled, “I’m Not Happy About It, But I Hate My Cat: What Can I Do?.”
I think it’s absolutely an important topic to discuss, even though it’s still a massively taboo topic.
In my mind, there are very few aspects in life that are clear cut positive or negative, and the same is true when it comes to pets.
I can’t imagine most pet owners in the world have gone through years with pets without feeling even the slightest tinge of resentment, dislike, or maybe even hatred toward their pet at one point or another. That’s fantasy in my mind.
Even I’ve crossed the line into resenting my cats a couple of times.
One instance that stands out happened a few months after we took in Avery, our first cat – a stray who found us in our backyard, and who we didn’t know was a kitten because he was so tall.
Avery began to meow and cry all night, leading to me becoming sleep deprived for months while troubleshooting, until I finally decided to play with him as often as I could all morning, then shut the door multiple nights in a row so he could play through the night without us.
He whined and begged at the door to our bedroom while it was shut for about a week until he finally learned he’d need to let out his nighttime zoomies on his own. I continued to need to shut him out of the bedroom at night until he was a couple years older and settled down to sleep with us at night instead of playing.
I also resented him a tinge many years later when we took in our second cat Bjorn, again a stray, and at certain times of day (usually right before feedings because he was hangry), Avery would would angerly attack our new addition.
The resentment I had was probably lessened by the fact that, this time, I understood cats a lot better better, and I knew what was happening was anxiety and stress related rather than malicious in any way, and that it could be resolved, but still.
The fact that Avery was actively aggressive toward another cat I loved so much made me furious with him during moments he was violent toward Bjorn, which never stopped me from understanding the culprit of the issue was stress and doing what I could to minimize that stress.
Fleeting as these feelings were, and easily resolved with time and effort once we knew what to do, the negative emotions I’ve had toward Avery over the years still existed, and I think it’s healthy to own up to and admit to these. Not just for myself, but for others who have had these feelings, or still do toward their pets.
A lot of us don’t dare to talk about our negative emotions toward our pets lest we look like bad pet parents to others, even though, in my opinion, the negative emotions say nothing about who you are as a pet parent.
Accepting and admitting to the negative emotions and thoughts you have toward your pet does not make you a bad person in my mind – just a regular human. And so long as you don’t let your frustration out on your pet in any way, or even go so far as to use these negative feelings as encouragement to make progress toward helping your lives get better by solving problems, I think you’re doing just fine.
There’s another type of hatred I’ve had toward my pets before, an overarching resentment I had by having too many new cats in my house at one time. I had 5 cats in my home altogether, with 3 being newly adopted within less than a year, but they were all strays from around my neighbourhood that I felt I had no choice but to take in due to health concerns.
Because not all the cats got along, my home life was a frustrating state of sectioning off cats and stressing over which could be let out at what time with which for around a year, before I could rehome Aramis, the one who was meant to go to my brother (he had to move to the country before I could give her to him).
As soon as Aramis was rehomed, the other four began to get along quite nicely. I had been gradually introducing them and over time this really works. My resentment toward having “too many cats” and “too many problems” related to too many cats in my home also gradually subsided.
This resentment I feel is similar to another kind of pet hatred I’ve spoken about on this blog, one related to the responsibility aspect of having the survival of a life under your care, but since I knew it was a matter of degree for me, and number of cats I had along with many of them being new was the problem, there was a foggy end in sight in my situation.
My brother would be taking one and the cats would begin to get along over time, so I just needed to hang in there, even if it was for many months, which I felt I could do.
There are resentments that are not so clear cut because they don’t necessarily have an end in sight, however, and to people in these situations, my heart goes out. I’ll get into this more in a little bit, but for now I’d like to note that the resentment and hatred I had, and that one has toward their pet in general, is typically not really about their pet if you look at it directly.
If you feel bitterness and resentment, often times you’ll find the issue is not your pet in particular, just at the current situation you’re facing as a result of a single or multiple pets.
For example, I didn’t hate my Avery when he was violent per say – what I felt was immense frustration around not being able to provide a safe home for my second cat, Bjorn, and wishing Avery had a more calm personality so that there could be peace in the household.
I feel like this is different from merely hating a cat, or the personality of a cat, or however else you’d frame the situation.
Because while Avery’s personality likely made it more likely that he’d react violently toward another cat, it wasn’t this side to him I hated, it was the fact that the situation we were in made him feel anxious to the point where his violent side came out.
While you may think this reframing is splitting hairs, I do think it’s beneficial for cutting through to the crux of the problem, and potentially fixing it.
Now onto the example of where a resentment that’s not so clear cut because there’s not necessarily an end in sight or good solution.
In my article titled, “Love Your Pet, But Resent or Even Hate Them Sometimes? You’re Not a Bad Person” I got a comment from a pet parent who calls herself AnonyMouse in one of the worst possible predicaments in my mind, because there is no plain end in sight:
Here’s something no one has yet mentioned. I hate my cat bc she has chronic kidney disease and after 5+ years of treating it, both my husband and I are just DONE. Her upkeep in special food and medication are costing us $300+ a month not including veterinary care. Veterinary medicine is now at the point where they can keep her alive indefinitely with the right medications and we just resent her so much bc she requires so much work. Also she is bleeding us dry while the engine is about to fall out of our 12yo hatchback and people worldwide are unemployed because of the pandemic. Due to her deteriorating body she is actively unpleasant to have as a pet, breathing on us with breath that is literally toxic from the disease, peeing outside the box due to arthritis and drooling constantly from subcutaneous fluids. But, she is not yet in stage 4 or end stage disease, and still eats, cuddles, bats at catnip toys etc. My husband and I are both animal lovers and never thought we’d be in this position. When our other cat had cancer, I worked from home for 2 months to give him palliative care. But the interminable nature of this situation is just unbearable. We both ask this cat at least once a week when she is going to die, and yes, I know how horrible that sounds. When can we put her to sleep and no longer have it be considered “convenience euthanasia?” We feel guilty asking our vet about this as he’s gone above and beyond for us for years, but we keep asking this in various vet forums and they keep rejecting the question. Somebody please help, we are at our wit’s end. 🙁
So to summarize: we have a situation where (in my opinion a very loving) couple of pet parents have kept alive a cat with chronic kidney disease for 5+ years, paying $300/month in special food and medication alone (not including veterinary care), and while they are self-proclaimed animal lovers who (again in my opinion) genuinely seem to care a ridiculous amount for this animal and the wellbeing of animals in general, they’ve developed resentment around their current situation.
To AnonyMouse, I’d argue that it doesn’t seem to me you’re really mad at your cat. She’s a source of resentment, but I think the real resentment is toward the ridiculously high pricing of health care for pets who need specialized diets and medication for long term health care problems that can never get better, and can only be maintained.
I don’t think this is the couple’s fault, nor is it the cat’s. The fact that the poor cat is deteriorating and unpleasant is sad and adds to the frustration surely, but it’s not the real problem. And sadly, the real problem – the ridiculously high price of pet health care – is not a problem that can be fixed by any of us individually.
The way I see it, these are just a couple of good people frustrated at their situation after five long years of financial stress, not counting the emotional burden which certainly must have resulted.
Putting the cost into perspective, 5 years at $300 a month, not including veterinary care is $18,000 as a baseline minimum that they’ve already spent, which – again putting things into perspective – is roughly the same as a minimum wage yearly salary in the past 5 years. That’s a huge financial burden.
To me, anyone who doesn’t admit that the finances are an issue is ignoring the entire crux of the problem. Yes, we can be idealists and say no amount is too high to spend on healthcare for our pets, but that doesn’t negate the financial hardship some of us sadly have to undergo when we are dealt an unlucky hand with pet illnesses that have costly price tags attached to them.
I can see why various vet forums would reject answering this woman’s question – “When can we put her to sleep and no longer have it be considered ‘convenience euthanasia?'” Truth be told, I’m going to reject answering it as well, because I don’t have an answer for her, I don’t think anyone can.
This couple has found themselves in possibly the most difficult situation we as pet parents could ever have to undergo.
No one will ever want to admit it’s okay to put down a cat under your care who can be helped, and no one ever wants to put a price tag on an animal’s life.
But these are ideals, and when ideals meet reality, you can face some of the toughest decisions in your life. Decisions like:
Do we continue to pay for vet bills for a pet when it may lead us to financial ruin?
How long can we stand the financial burden of a pet whose health will never get better, only worse, when we’re struggling financially ourselves?
How do we live with our decision if we decide to put down a pet who was under our care who we could have saved, albeit at a high cost to our financial (and likely emotional) stability?
Unfortunate people like this couple will ultimately have to make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives ethically – where there’s no good option and where the result is likely either continued built up resentment toward the predicament due to immense stress upkeeping these bills, or immense guilt “choosing money” (which is always more than just money – it’s financial and emotional security as well oftentimes) over an animal’s life, which can be interpreted as putting a price tag on an animal’s life under your care.
The decision is actually impossible. There is no good choice.
Empathy. Sadly, that’s really all I can offer for pet parents in situations like this.
Empathy that comes from a place of understanding – that I really wouldn’t want to make this kind of a decision myself because it’s a terrible spot to be put in.
Hopefully, if this situation sounds like yours, or a situation you’ve had in the past, it helps a little to hear that someone else sees this situation’s impossibility for what it is, and doesn’t think you’re a bad person for making an impossible decision – no matter which way that decision goes.
It’s terrible choice to have been dealt by life and truthfully is one all of us pet parents should hope to heaven we never have to make in our lives.
If this situation sounds like someone you know, I really hope you give this person an empathetic ear and some understanding, and don’t judge them harshly if they make the decision to stop treatment.
It’s terrible that our pets get sick.
It’s terrible when the treatment is extremely expensive.
It sucks that any of us ever have to make the decision to stop or refuse treatment for our pets because the medical bills for pets are too expensive, and paying them would mean putting ourselves into financial duress.
It’s noble and praiseworthy when pet parents feel the responsibility of paying the pet bills, keeping their pets alive in situations like this even at such a high cost, but it’s also not an easy choice to make and pet parents should not be looked at negatively when it’s not something they feel they can do or continue to do.
It’s just an enormously difficult decision, and I think pet parents who find themselves in this dreadful kind of situation deserve as much understanding and empathy as we can give them.
Your Thoughts on Pet Resentment Over Pet Care Bills?
Have you ever resented a pet? Ever had a pet who you resented over extremely high pet care bills?
Do you have any advice/understanding/an empathetic ear to lend to pet parents who end up in the is type of situation?
Do you have any stories you can share?
Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments down below.
There are so many ways in which I am saddened by this post! Having observed people who have literally put their let’s down for being messy or inconvenient, I have also observed others who will spend whatever it takes to keep their beloved animals healthy (including us). Financial security and pet health are terrible choices to make. Care Credit is one suggestion I have, which has saved us on more than one occasion. Medical costs, including vet bills, are the only costs covered by this credit card. It would be great if AnonyMouse saw this.
Jean Mornard says
This post makes me sad in so many ways! I have known people who have put let’s down literally because they were messy or inconvenient and I have known others who would spare no expense to keep their beloved furries healthy (including us). It’s a horrible choice to have to make between financial health and pet health. One suggestion I have, which saved our bacon more than once, is Care Credit. It’s a credit card exclusively for medical costs, including vet costs. I hope Anony Mouse sees this and it helps.