“Our pets are the kids who never leave home, and that’s absolutely fine by us because these kids don’t ask for the keys to the car, don’t turn up drunk at two in the morning, and don’t complain if you turn their bedroom into a home gym. Their presence in times of upheaval and transition acts as a touchstone, a reminder of normalcy, of comfort, and the certainty of a love that can get you through.” ― Nick Trout, Ever By My Side: A Memoir in Eight [Acts] Pets
My family pet cat, Snowy, died on the 1st of this month. When my parents broke the news to me, I could hear in their voices, the undeniable grief from the loss of a loved one. In a world where you are loved and liked for what you are rather than who you are, our pets teach us what unconditional love is truly about. Although cats don’t behave like dogs, Snowy was closer to us and more loving towards the family than his brother, who is the complete opposite, literally! – he is a black cat who loves to roam about and fancies a brawl or two with other cats in the neighbourhood, but Snowy was the cat who jumped on to our laps and asked for a good long rub, sat beside us at family meetings, never wandered far from the house and always came running to us whenever we called for him.
Snowy died of cancer and he was only four years old. My parents did everything they could to save his life. It was yet another pet who died, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to pets dying, because I grieve every time. They say the death of a pet teaches a child to deal with a loss of a loved one. But what about adults, who have seen it happen several times over the course of their life? Why do we still cry and get deeply sad? Having a pet is almost like having a kid; you love them unconditionally. When they come home covered in mud and dirt, you do scold them, but you also wash them. When they are sick, you take care of them, and you never sit down to eat your own meals without giving them theirs.
The bond between animals and human beings is a strange one and it never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I think, it is a more lasting and a profound one than one between two human beings. While human beings constantly change, animals stick to their loyalty. Our pets always come home (unless an unfortunate event befalls them) and they don’t leave us for our flaws. Whether you are rich or poor, good looking or not, accomplished or failed, it doesn’t matter to them – only our love matters.
In my family, we have always treated our pets as equals. And when they are sick or troubled, we treat them the same way we would treat one another. There are many animals that aren’t as lucky as our pets. Animals have feelings and emotions, and they get hurt too. Their physical pain is just as much as painful as ours. But sadly that hurt is never treated or considered the same way as human pain. Who declared us more important than them? Is it about the survival of the fittest? Human beings are calculating, selfish and more dangerous than any other animal on the planet, and for that reason…we thrive. I don’t think it is something we should be proud of.
Although we may never speak the language of our pets or understand it perfectly, we know enough to know that they feel hunger, thirst, pain, fear and love, and so do every other animal. And you would think with all the pet owners in the world, cruelty to animals by now would have been eliminated from the face of the earth. Our pets, not only teach us the lessons of love and loyalty, they also give us the unequivocal knowledge to understand the ever-present feelings and emotions of every other animal.
I hope you rest in peace my little Snowy!
“My philosophy when it came to pets was much like that of having children: You got what you got, and you loved them unconditionally regardless of whatever their personalities or flaws turned out to be. ”
― Gwen Cooper, Homer’s Odyssey