The Differences Between a Pet Lover and a Pet Parent

Picture of a woman and her dog outside

With statistics revealing that 68% of today’s American households own at least one pet, it is easy to see that people enjoy having a furry friend for companionship. Estimates report that 85 million U.S. families share their homes with a dog or a cat. The pet owning public has changed dramatically in recent years with a shift towards treating pets like beloved family members rather than simply adding a pet to a home to fulfil a particular job such as working as a livestock guardian, providing protection for the household, or keeping the varmint population under control. There is no question that this new outlook has improved the lives of pets in many different ways. But one quick glimpse at the new products taking pride of place on the shelves at the local pet store reveals another way pet ownership has changed. Though standard items such as food bowls, leashes, and collars still line the shelves, standing beside them are such wares as designer doggy clothing, footwear, expensive supplements, luxurious bedding, and gourmet doggy foods. With dog toys no longer simply confined to a choice of a bone or a ball, many pet retailers sell puzzles and toys designed to help provide dogs and cats with mental stimulation to support contentedness and brain development. Along with these changes comes a change in terminology. Many people refer to themselves as pet parents and their dogs or cats as their “fur kids.” Is there a difference between being a pet lover and a pet parent?

A Pet Lover or a Pet Parent – Which One Are You?

The main difference between being a pet lover and a pet parent is while you can love pets without owning one, you can’t own one without loving them. Some people who proudly proclaim themselves to be pet lovers are not currently able to own a dog or cat due to their own unique set of circumstances. This does not lessen their joy when encountering adorable kitten videos or coming across the opportunity to cuddle a playful puppy when out on a walk. The pet lover still indulges their affection for pets as often as possible; they simply are unable to take the next step to ownership at this time, choosing to live vicariously through pet parents they know.

By comparison, pet parents are those who have made the decision to add a pet to their home. With that pet comes an added layer of responsibility; the commitment to love and care for that pet for the entirety of its life. The pet owner experiences the joys of owning a dog or cat but must also deal with the loss when that animal reaches its senior years and succumbs to illness and later death. Though the pain of this loss seems unbearable, the pet parent believes the grief pales in comparison to the rich rewards of having known and loved their pet for the length of their journey upon the earth.

Are you a pet lover thinking you might like to take the plunge to becoming a pet parent? Here are some key differences between the two roles:

Pet lovers don’t have personal space issues; pet parents do.

Picture of a dog under the blankets

While pet lovers enjoy kisses and cuddles from every dog or cat they meet, they don’t suffer the same personal space issues reserved for pet parents. When a pet lover climbs into bed at night, they can stretch out with the full assurance that the entirety of the bed is theirs to enjoy. Nor do pet lovers have to contort their bodies into Houdini like positions to find a perch on their favorite chair due to Fifi’s insistence that she rest in just the right spot. Pet parents are quite used to their pets not only disregarding the rules for personal space but also remaining blissfully ignorant of which body parts they bruise in their quest for comfort.

Pet lovers love all pets equally; pet parents think their dog or cat is #1.

Picture of a woman holding her cat

While pet lovers readily love every pet they encounter, pet parents always have a built-in bias. Though they can appreciate every dog or cat they meet, their heart will always firmly belong to their own Fido or Fifi. No matter what virtues any other pet may possess, their hearts will not be swayed. Pet parents can express genuine affection for other pets, but when it comes to the #1 position, it will always belong to their dog or cat alone.

Pet lovers sleep fitfully through the night; pet parents don’t.

Picture of a dog sleeping in bed with its owner

One of the few down sides of pet ownership is the fact that sometimes dogs or cats need frequent pee breaks throughout the night. From time to time, pets also experience illness, leading to disruption in regular sleep patterns.  Owning a dog or cat can be quite similar to caring for a child, requiring sacrifices, and yes, sometimes lost sleep.

Pet lovers share selfies of themselves with their favorite dogs or cats with their friends. Pet parents proudly display collages of them doing their favorite things with their one and only.

Picture of a woman taking a selfie with her dog

One of the joys of loving many dogs and cats is the collection of photographs the pet lover gathers of them with the most adorable pets they encounter. But selfies prominently featuring pets are not restricted to pet lovers. Pet parents also love to capture fun moments with their fave pooch or feline to share with their family and friends on social media and other platforms. Though the pet lover’s newsfeed features many different cats and dogs in their arms, the pet parent sticks to their one and only.

Pet lovers find it hard to watch pet-related movies with sad endings; pet parents avoid them.

Picture of a man watching tv with his dog

While both pet lovers and pet parents find it hard resist a movie starring an adorable cat or dog, pet lovers will often give it a shot while pet parents prefer to opt out. Though a scene depicting the loss of a beloved pet is hard on the heart for both types of pet people, it is unbearable for the pet parent, particularly if their current dog or cat is advanced in age or suffering from an illness.

Pet lover or a pet parent—which one are you? Whether you own a dog or cat or simply love someone else’s, we need both roles in our world today. Make some time to cuddle your favorite canine or feline today!



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