Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Do People Want Pets?

My childhood cat, Pepper
By Julia Williams

There are so many different reasons why people want pets. Like stars in the clear night sky, you can’t count them all, can’t even begin to try. Though many reasons seem to be the same on the surface, when you delve deeper into the “why” you begin to see a million shades of gray. Why do people like any one thing and not another? Why do I, for example, love caramel and the color pink but detest sauerkraut and khaki green? Because I’m me, a wholly unique human that brings a cornucopia of life experiences with me wherever I go. The things that have been written on the slate of our soul can’t be erased, and they change the fabric of our life in ways we can’t always comprehend.

I often wonder why my sister and I developed an intense love of cats despite being raised by a mom who was apathetic about all animals. This love of cats, of wanting to have one so much that to live without would be unthinkable and not worth the trouble it would take to breathe, is certainly not hereditary. In retrospect, I think I now want – no, need – cats in my life because at a very young age one saved my life. Not literally, as though he raced in and dragged me out of a burning building. That would be quite a feat for ANY cat!

No, my childhood cat Pepper was not capable of such a thing. But he was there to pick up the pieces of a young life shattered by unspeakable tragedy. He was there to convince me that despite the horrors of reality, I could still dream. He was there to keep me tethered to life even when everything around me was turning to dust. Little by little, day by day, Pepper helped me climb out of the rubble that had become my life. I’m convinced that my beloved Pepper’s “job” was one of healer, and he was very good at it. He, as well as every wonderful cat in my life since, helped to heal my wounds in a way that no human doctor ever could.

I want pets in my life because to not have them would be like taking out my heart and telling my body to keep breathing. That’s just one of countless reasons, and what follows are the answers other pet lovers gave when asked why they like having a pet.

Ruth Franklin: “Because of course she loves me unconditionally and makes me laugh when I'm not happy.”

Sue Grybel Doute: “A pet is good company...a good listener and doesn't dominate the conversation!”

Christine Elspeth MacGregor: “I think some people get pets because they (the owners) have a lot of love to give. There's something nice about knowing that, because of me, a helpless creature is happy, healthy and well fed, and doesn't need to worry about anything. And of course because they're great company and help relieve stress.”

Lori Lankhorst: “My pets have given me an understanding, loving, humorous, bonded kind of Friendship that NO human could ever give!”

Laraine K. Harford: “When people have let me down, I could always count on my cats. When I feel as if I am about to unravel, my cats hold me together. When my heart's breaking and there's nobody around to comfort me, my cats are here, purring, allowing me to stroke their fur, doing their best to let me know that they love me.”

Tammy Clemens Burcham: “I like having a pet because they keep you company without complaining, and our cat is a great listener.”

Kristine Webster: “They love you unconditionally.”

Jenn Martin-Ilo: “My cats are warm, soft, happy beings that make me smile and feel loved after a long, hard day at work. And their silly antics provide me with great belly laughs! Plus, they make great foot warmers on chilly days!” ;-)

Tara M. Clapper: “As a freelance writer, I make my own schedule and love it! Still, it helps to have some structure to my day, especially since my husband is presently unemployed. Our two dogs help me stay on a consistent schedule and ensure that I get away from the desk for some light exercise when I take them for walks.”

Di Anna Lawhead-Nation: “My dog is my world. :) He comforts me when needed, loves me unconditionally, never tells any of my secrets, and when I have a seizure...he is right by my side.”

Why do YOU like having a pet in your life?

Bottom photo by by Ninha Morandini 

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. Really good post!

    I grew up with dogs and horses/ponies, with equines being my first love. In fact, I have two horse soulmates, both of whom died many, many years ago.

    I adopted my first cat after my divorce because I wanted the company and because I erroneously thought cats would be less needy and demanding than dogs. (Hahaha.)

    But it turned out that angels Chumley and Annie saved me, emotionally, and kept me living when I had no other reason to.

    My current fur companions, Nicki and Derry, do the same, though I'm not quite in the same dark place that I was for so many years. But still, without human family in my province, and no siblings anyway, they give me comfort and companionship. My fur family has been my greatest joy in this life, but also my greatest sorrow and definitely my greatest stress.

  2. My animals are my best friends. They are so much nicer than most humans. They are so forgiving and just good friends.

  3. Lovely post! I love having Finn in my life - I love knowing that she needs me, is excited to see me when I walk through the door, and that she would rather spend time with me than anyone else.

  4. I feel the same way as you Julia. Pets, dogs and cats have saved my life from a tragic childhood and still give me that safety and security in an uncertain world. I am alive because of the unconditional love all of the animals I have had over the years. They have been the only beings who have been constant and still are. :)

    Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your connection with Pepper. I'm sure we are not alone. :)

  5. Yes, the reasons are many and we are very happy that there are loving humans around and about!

  6. Well, I (FRANKIE FURTER) don't know why Peeps would want a pet... butt speaking frankly from my new experience with having my FURST EVER PUPPY... I wanted to have a FUREND fur when I feel LONELY. Now that I have my little ERNIE pup.. I can say fur SURE... I am NOT LONELY NOW!! He is keepin me on my paw pads and THAT is a FACT. hehehhe

  7. What a great post! Our mom grew up with animals...cats, dogs, hamsters, fish. birds...but she was always drawn to cats and cannot imagine her life without having at least one in it!

    She says thanks for including her quote!! And contrary to what she says, we do try to dominate the conversation!! :)

  8. My mom person had dogs growing up. There were many years where she didn't have a dog once she was an adult, but she's awful happy to have me now!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  9. It is never too late for love. That's what Bugs tells me. I am glad you had your life saved, Julia. You're here! So are we! Yippee.

  10. YOu had mom's full attention..she understood. xoxoxo

  11. loved this...

    I love having pet(s) in my life because of their honesty, unconditional love and because I prefer them to most people

  12. I believe pets are here to help us in whatever capacity we need. They are great company. I grew up having a dog. Now I have a cat. Pets are awesome. Just as you shared about Pepper they are healers. I also thing they are teachers. My cat has taught me many things.

  13. My Human says that most kittehs she has had are wonderful companions that give unconditional love and that's why she loved having kitties. Well, then she gotted me. Heh heh. I am *challenging* but hey--if she has to work for every purr, she'll appreciate me even more--right??? That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

  14. I have had pets my whole life and cannot imagine not living my life without a furbaby or two. My pets, have always been there for me when no one else was. They provide friendship, love, endless entertainment with their antics, and always companionship. I talk to them and I know they understand me, especially Sadie. She turns her head from side to side listening to every words. I experience incredibly deep sorrow when a pet crosses the Rainbow Bridge but although tears still flow for all of them, that pain is far outweighed by the joy they brought to my life.

  15. They are the sweetest creatures!

  16. Very compelling and honest post. I, too, feel that pets are healers, comforters, friends. And for nearly all my life I've had some sort of critter whether goldfish, parakeet, gerbil, cat, or dog. At one point, my son even had a reticulated python living in the house with us-not one of my favorites!

    Critter Alley

  17. I too have been saved by an animal. My life would be bleaker without them in it.

  18. Aww, that was a very touching story. I'm sorry that life was so difficult when you were young and that Pepper was there to help you heal. Cats can give you strength.

    On another note, is that lil' Julia with Pepper or is that your sister? :)

  19. I to was saved by a pit bull dog!! You write beautifully!!! I love all animals, even wild ones!!
    Do please come and see!!
    xx, Happy & Fern

  20. Wonderful post. We love that our cats Sammy and Moosey always happily welcome us home. They are both, in their own ways, sources of healing, great listeners, and comedians. We can't imagine a life without them!

  21. What a lovely post first of all (and I love the image of Pepper!).
    My love for cats runs back to my childhood when my mum once brought home an orphaned kitten. I loved that cat so much (I recently found some very tender entries in my childhood journal about her). I know the choice of pet is very individual according to temperament and nature but I think it's got a lot to do with having a place (the pet) where you can SAFELY lodge your emotions. But for me my rescued cats has offered me so much more. I feel so deeply fulfilled when I get to spend time with a cat in need of healing - either physically or physchologically. I can literally spend hours in their company and I find it so incredibly rewarding when they begin to heal. Anyhow...just a few thoughts, I could go on!
    Oh, and just a response story to your words: Not literally, as though he raced in and dragged me out of a burning building. That would be quite a feat for ANY cat!
    Did you ever read about her??

  22. Yes I knew of Scarlett and how she saved her kittens from a burning building. It's such a touching story and I've written about her here. Of course, it's one thing for a cat to drag kittens out of a burning building -- they don't quite have the strength to drag out a human, although I am sure some would if they could. At least, I'd like to hope that my "heart cat" Belle would rescue me. =^..^=

  23. Sometimes pets act as pillar of strength and share emotional bond with us.


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