Is it morally right to keep animals as pets?
I just saw this question on the internet but didn’t read the answer because I wanted to provide my own brief thoughts unencumbered by internet chat.
First up, I don’t like the word, “pet”. It is too human focused. It suggests that we are better and the superior partner in a human/animal relationship. I think we should be equal partners so prefer “companion animal”. We should remember too that we are a species of animal in a strict scientific sense. Although that will upset some people – it shouldn’t.
Where the animal agreed to be domesticated then it is morally right to keep animals as pets. The wild cat and dog agreed to be domesticated many thousands of years go. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
The cat gets a degree of protection, comfort and care from us and during the early stages of domestication the cat performed the useful task of keeping rodents etc. down. It was and still is a symbiotic arrangement. The domestic cat now provides us with companionship and comfort in return. It must therefore be a moral arrangement.
However, in respect of wild animals that are not naturally inclined to be domesticated and where due to the animals needs domestication is unsuitable, it is not moral in my opinion to keep them as pets or to try and domestic them.
I am thinking for example of the large wildcats. These cats need lots of space. Their natural drives are to roam widely as their territory (range) can extend to many square miles sometimes hundreds of square miles. To confine such an animal to small areas for our convenience is morally wrong.
For an animal to be content the animal’s natural drives and instincts need to be expressed and satisfied. If the relationship between human and animal can’t accommodate that it becomes unnatural, unfair, possibly cruel and morally wrong.
The relationship has to be equally beneficial to both parties to be morally right in my opinion. That I think is the criteria upon which we can measure if it is morally right to keep animals as pets.
What do you think!?