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posted by martyb on Sunday October 01 2017, @11:59AM   Printer-friendly
from the Bow-Wow-Meow-Squeak! dept.

The recent popularity of "designer" dogs, cats, micro-pigs and other pets may seem to suggest that pet keeping is no more than a fad. Indeed, it is often assumed that pets are a Western affectation, a weird relic of the working animals kept by communities of the past.

About half of the households in Britain alone include some kind of pet; roughly 10m of those are dogs while cats make up another 10m. Pets cost time and money, and nowadays bring little in the way of material benefits. But during the 2008 financial crisis, spending on pets remained almost unaffected, which suggests that for most owners pets are not a luxury but an integral and deeply loved part of the family.

Some people are into pets, however, while others simply aren't interested. Why is this the case? It is highly probable that our desire for the company of animals actually goes back tens of thousands of years and has played an important part in our evolution. If so, then genetics might help explain why a love of animals is something some people just don't get.

[...] The pet-keeping habit often runs in families: this was once ascribed to children coming to imitate their parents' lifestyles when they leave home, but recent research has suggested that it also has a genetic basis. Some people, whatever their upbringing, seem predisposed to seek out the company of animals, others less so.

Is the desire to keep pets really hard-wired in our DNA?

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by acid andy on Sunday October 01 2017, @02:39PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Sunday October 01 2017, @02:39PM (#575567) Homepage Journal

    I didn't restate their point. They said that pet owners are oblivious to filth. I disagreed by pointing out that "filth" is a subjective term. I will concede though that anyone claiming their home is "perfectly clean" is just as guilty of the same subjective relativism.

    The OP went on to suggest some possible benefits of pet ownership, involving genetics and raising children. I didn't restate those points either. I made a different point about immune systems.

    If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
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