You will see various statistics on this topic. All are interesting and perhaps a little shocking. My quick research indicated that between about 30% and about 50% of people in a relationship with another person prefer their cat or dog companion compared to their human partner. One website’s article from 2022 refers to a survey in which almost 50% of pet owners loved their cat or dog more than their partner. In that study there were 2,000 participants.
Obsessed with pets of fed up with humans?
The author says that the study indicates that humans are obsessed with their pets. True perhaps but I tend to look at it from a different perspective. The statistics point to a failure in the relationship between humans. A relationship which is meant to be one of mutual support. It might be marriage or a civil partnership. Certainly, the numbers point to people enjoying living with cats and dogs but on the other side of the coin there is this failure. Are humans uniquely bad at living together?
Other statistics point to the same conclusion. The divorce rate in the UK is about 42% with a gradual increase over the years. In the United States, there has been a gradual increase over the past half-century in single-parent families. One in every three children are in single-parent families. It’s the same in the UK.
For many, the institution of marriage is no longer something to aspire to. People often don’t see the need for it. It creates legal problems on divorce. People want to protect their assets and don’t want them divided up on divorce. Perhaps they’re looking forward in a negative way by foreseeing the inevitable!
There are far more break-ups in the relationships between people than there are the relationships between people and their pets.
The current Pope, Pope Francis, made it clear that he is very concerned about this trend in Italy. He sees people giving up on having kids and having dogs and cats instead. He wants bigger families. Italy wants more Italians born into families in order to fuel the economy!
But they prefer their pets. And Pope Francis sees it as almost ungodly. The Daily Mail reported in 2022 that 66% of Britons said that their pet is their best friend. Almost 60% said that their dog or cat companion never judges them which is why they prefer them. And about 50% said that their pets are more loyal than humans; another reason why they prefer them to humans.
The Daily Mail reported on another study with 1,500 British parents with dogs or cats. The bond between companion animal is so strong that 23% of the participants said that they would prefer a holiday with their cat or dog than one with their human partners!
An Independent newspaper in 2018 reported that a third of owners prefer their pets to their partners. It’s the same outcome based upon another survey.
Destabilized human relations?
People wouldn’t be saying these things a hundred or even 50 years ago. There is no doubt that people are more connected with cats and dogs than they were in the past. But there’s also no doubt that it is harder today to keep a relationship between humans stable. That’s my personal view. It may be because the world is less stable. It may also be because as the world population grows rapidly, there is more pressure on people through greater competition for resources.
And also, this increased competition can be set against the backdrop of catastrophes like climate change. Global warming is a black cloud hanging over humankind about which the world’s politicians seem to be impotent. Lots of talk not much action. People don’t like to see this. The young people of today don’t see a future.
Young people – school children – are becoming increasingly stressed as evidenced by more self-harming and another psychological symptoms, particularly in girls.
This is clearly a complicated subject but there are other reasons for this breakdown between men and women and in same sex partnerships.
Another reason is this: misplaced expectations. People expect something which is not realistic or possible in a marriage. And perhaps, too, nowadays there is not enough give-and-take. There’s more take than give. More self-indulgence. Less self-discipline.
The most stable relationship between men and women are those in which the man gives way to the woman in my experience. If a married couple treated the marriage as a ‘business’ which needed to work for both of them there might be more successful marriages.
That sounds very boring and unromantic but ultimately marriage is a partnership in which both parties do their very best to maintain a close friendship. It seems that nowadays most are unprepared to work towards that goal.
But to turn to cats and dogs again. Indeed, they don’t judge. Perhaps above all they are nearly always utterly reliable. They are always there for you. They need their human caregiver. People like that feeling. They don’t argue, they don’t trick you, they don’t lie to you or mess you around or play games. They wear their heart on their sleeve to use a human expression. What you see is what you get. They are honest without fault.
So many good qualities. Of course, married couples often can’t fully substitute the presence of a human companion with a pet because as yet, cats and dogs haven’t mastered human language. But that doesn’t stop hundreds of millions of cat and dog owners communicating very ably with their beloved animal friend.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.