Captured and forced to be domesticated. This is the life of animals keep at home as pets for solely our benefit. Some scientists call it a case of Stockholm syndrome; a condition in which the hostage develops a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. How would you feel if I told you that your dog is being psychologically forced to love you? What you feel towards your poor captive pets at home is actually 'capture bonding', where the hostage expresses empathy and has positive feelings towards their captors. What gave us as humans, humans part of the animal world, the right to 'own' another animal? Keeping pets is cruel. 

From the animals that become dog and cat food and the puppy farms churning out increasingly unhealthy purebred canines to the goldfish sold by the bag and the crickets by the box, pet ownership is problematic because it denies animals the right of self-determination. Ultimately, we bring them into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their reproductive organs.

But we have come a long way. More recently, several countries have moved to change the legal status of animals. In 2015, the government of New Zealand recognised animals as sentient beings, in effect declaring them no longer property as did the Canadian province of Quebec. While pets remain property in the UK, the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 stipulates that pet owners must provide a basic level of care for their animals. Pets are also property in the US, but 32 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington DC, now include provisions for pets under domestic violence protection orders. In 2001, Rhode Island changed its legislation to describe pet owners as “guardians", a move that some animal rights’ advocates praised. Still, our animals can’t tell us whether they are happy being pets.

This abusive ownership over another creatures life exposes an innate human desire to feel powerful, superior and at-the-top of the food chain even though it is clear that humans would not make it in the natural world. Maybe pet-ownership is a way for humans to exert this inherent desire in a way that looks wholesome and cute: having (owning) a cat. From an outside perspective, humans will never really understand how odd it is to have a domesticated once 'wild' animal lounging in their living room. Nevertheless, it is too late now; these creatures have become dependant on us to survive and it is now our job to ensure their survival by, ironically, keeping them as pets.