Love+, Pets + Animals
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Silly Things People Have Said to Me When I Tell Them I Don’t Want Pets

I know, I know, you think I have no heart. Everyone does when I tell them that I don’t have (or ever want to have) a pet. But I do have a soul, I swear. I’m just not that into four-legged, furry creatures, and I certainly don’t want one running around my cozy one-bedroom apartment.

Listen, I never said I don’t like pets. And I don’t think I’ve ever implied that I’m “anti-animal.” I’m just not a “pet person” (and neither is my husband, thankfully).

But still, people just don’t get it. Recently, when I told a friend that my husband and I were thinking about starting a family next year, she said: “Get a pet first. That way, you’ll know you if you can handle kids.” When I told her no way, and that I’d take a baby over a dog any day, she looked at me as though I had just murdered a bunny rabbit.

We let my friend’s cat, Ciel, stay at our place once (it was an emergency situation).
See how nice I’m being? (Photo: Andy Kropa)

To me, a pet is just as much of a responsibility as a baby, maybe even more of one. I know I can’t control what people think of me. But here’s my attempt to explain myself, when faced with these silly, “why-are-you-an-animal-hater?” questions.

“Are you insane?”

Sure. But not because I don’t want pets. Perhaps if I lived on a sprawling estate, where there was space for a dog to run free and a room that I could dedicate solely to the kitty litter box, I’d consider it. But the fact of the matter is I live in a small apartment in Brooklyn, with my husband. A big dog would be miserable here — it would be unfair to make a large animal live in such tight quarters. And I’m pretty positive I’d end up accidentally stepping or sitting on a teeny-tiny “apartment dog.” And cats, while more suited for apartments, shed all over everything, scratch up almost anything and require a litter box, which smells God-awful, no matter what magical products you use to try to cover the odor. All of that sounds like pretty sane reasoning to me.

“But don’t you love animals?”

I do love animals. I love watching them on YouTube, I love playing with other people’s pets, I even enjoy a good petting zoo every now and then. But, other than the YouTube watching, those things don’t happen in my apartment, and therefore there’s no pee, poop, hair, or worst of all, destroyed items that we love, left behind. Like Roscoe, our wonderfully sweet, incredibly patient and blessedly silent stuffed watchdog. HE’S our kind of pet.

Meet Roscoe
(Photo: Susan Linney/ TueNight.com)

“Didn’t you grow up with pets?”

Yup. I had a beautiful calico cat that I named Foo-Foo. We got her when I was seven years old and she died my sophomore year in college. I loved her, she was a part of the family, and I was devastated when she passed away. But the thing is, I didn’t really have to take care of her. My mom did most of that. So I had all the perks of owning a cat without having to do any of the work. Foo-Foo was also — how do you say — kind of a bitch. Which I liked about her: she didn’t cozy up to just anybody (in fact, she often drew blood from some of my friends). She wasn’t a lap slut. Which is why I knew I was special: She did cozy up to me.

Point is, I had a wonderful pet growing up, but I didn’t have to clean up after her, pay for her food, or clean out her litter box. What I had, in essence, was a fantasy pet, something that I wouldn’t be able to pull off today.

“Did you have a bad run-in with an animal?”

Nope. I do not suffer from pet PTSD. I just don’t want one.

Are you allergic?

No, but my sister is, which caused a bit of an upset when Foo-Foo was adopted. My sister is 11 years older than me, so she was out of the house by the time Foo-Foo moved in, but I’m sure my sis felt a bit slighted when she learned that my parents had gotten me a cat. And it sucked when she came over — she could stay 30 minutes, maybe 45 tops before she started suffering a miserable sneeze fest. This is another reason why I don’t want a cat, which I think is the most appropriate pet for city living. I don’t want my sister to be unable to comfortably hang out in my home.

Do you avoid sites like I Can Has Cheezburger?

NO. You don’t have to own a pet to find humor in them. My husband agrees:

(Photo courtesy of Andy Kropa, fellow non-pet owner
and fan of I Can Has Cheezburger.)

I’m not stupid, I’m not heartless, I’m not a tight-assed person, I swear. I just don’t want animal hair, urine, feces, throw-up or clawed-up furniture and clothing in my apartment. I’m sure, as EVERYONE SAYS, that the love you feel is well worth the inconveniences, but I just don’t feel the need to find out.

A baby will be plenty, if we are eventually blessed with one, thank you very much.

This piece was originally published on December 3, 2013. 

34 Comments

  1. I love pets (and have many), but I still can relate: For one, I’m a big fan of kids but don’t want any of my own. After all, it’s a whole different ball game keeping and enjoying someone’s else for a few days vs. making that full-time commitment, from which you can’t turn back…

    • Susan Linney
      Susan Linney says

      Thanks Camels & Chocolate! Glad you’ve got my back! I agree (though I am entertaining the idea of having children). But as far as pets are concerned, I know some people who get a cat or dog and then basically ignore them. Like it’s not that big of a deal. But it IS a big commitment, one that I respect to much to casually enter into.

      xx
      -Susan

  2. Joyce says

    Susan, I hear you and yet…..I want to tell you all the reasons why a pet would bring you such joy. Especially in your recovery.

    But I heard you loud and clear, so I won’t! 🙂

    And nevertheless, a great read, as always!

    -Joyce

    • Susan Linney
      Susan Linney says

      Thanks for sparing me, Joyce! I’ve heard it all. And I’m not saying you’re not right, I’m just not willing to find out (ESPECIALLY given my sobriety and all it takes to maintain it on a daily basis). Honestly THAT has to come first right now.

      But thanks, as always, for reading and commenting, Joyce!

      Susan

  3. Melonie M. says

    I couldn’t agree more. Pet lovers always feel like they need to fix me cause I don’t want pets besides our fish. I’m 35 not 12 so I think I know myself well enough thank you. I didn’t grow up with one but I don’t feel the void of not having one like I feel the void of other things I didn’t have. I don’t hate animals, I just don’t want the responsibility of owning one.

    • Susan Linney
      Susan Linney says

      Here, here Melonie! Well said. That’s exactly what I’m talkin’ about!

      -Susan

  4. Hear, hear! We have a pet, but if I had my way we wouldn’t. I’m outnumbered, though, so I must suffer through everything you noted above. More power to ya and good luck with starting a family. I have two of my own – 17 and 19. THEY I do not regret one iota. 🙂

  5. Michelle says

    I feel the exactly the same way, I have children though, but to me pets are a big responsibility and I don’t have the patience for them. Of course children are a big responsibility as well I’ve had both I just am not into having pets into my home. I prefer to adore them afar. I am judged for that as well.

  6. Monica Dennis
    Monica Dennis (@jigsawverbiage) says

    Can’t tell you how many times I have had this same discussion. Tiresome, isn’t it? And amazing. The pet owners who ask in astonishment are often the same ones talking about some major (i.e. expensive, time-consuming) situation with their pet and I look at them and say, “Do you see now?” Like you, I had pets growing up and no, that doesn’t count because as you rightly said, you weren’t the one footing that bill. I’m always saying, “I have two children. I’m not looking for a third.” It’s funny how everyone agrees about the money and work, yet it’s still odd to them that you don’t want to take that on. And oh how I’m depriving my kids! Actually, my daughter just got a guinea pig. She “refuses to spend my childhood without a pet.” lol! So how did my then 10-year-old handle it? She got a neighborhood job to save money and did extensive research to impress the pet store guy. Did she deserve it? Yep. And she knew I wasn’t going for a dog or cat so this washer compromise. She was home recently with a concussion. She had bought the cage and some food for her future pet so I chose to get her the guinea pig during that recuperation time. And yes, we love that furball. No, I still don’t want a dog or cat or any other zoo living in my house. I don’t tell people they should have kids so why tell me I should have a pet? Great article.

  7. Brenda Murphy says

    I’ve always had pets, mostly outdoors, and i hac pets for my kids. When they left i had responsibility for the dog and had to put him down when he was old and in pain. My hubby and i do not want their animals in the house. They scratch the floors, ravel the carpet, and demand attention from our visit. I love dogs, but they are not, and never will be, people… Stop trying to make them people, for Gods sake! Enough.

    • Ebonie Torres says

      Yes I totally agree. My husband got a dog. After I told him over and over again I did not want one. I have two children and had my tubes tied. I did not want another responsibility. But he says I’m heartless because I don’t want this dog. I even hate walking in my home knowing that dog is there.

      • Diana Martinelli says

        Mine did too, even though we had tried already and I was so frustrated with that pet. But he calls me everything you can think of; crazy, heartless, evil, cold, stupid, not normal. Sadly I must admit this contributed a lot to me wanting a divorce.

        I hope the best for you, I know I couldnt take that.

      • JJ says

        That sucks that he did not respect your wishes. Not a deal breaker but I would have walked that dog right back out the door.

      • Amelia weights says

        Omg! I feel your pain. For the first ten looooong years of my marriage we had a dog or 2 or 3 because my husband adored them and couldn’t live without them. I liked dogs when I was a kid but now they just seem like extra expense and work I don’t need or want. I’d dread coming home. I hated walking into my house and being hit by that dog smell. I loathed the hair, the drool, the jingle of dog tags, the ball licking, the toenails on linoleum. God, I just hated all of it! No one should have to hate coming home. Your home should be your refuge. Finally after ten very long years we are finally dog free. Hallelujah! My husband still talks about getting one everyday but I remind him that he got the first ten years, I get the next ten years.

      • commom sense says

        I would take the dog to the pound one day when nobody is home and tell them the dog ran off. You should not have to live like that. There is nothing wrong with not wanting animals in the house. Your husband is totally out of line on this issue.

  8. I can relate. It’s my husband that wanted the dog. It’s a responsibility that I don’t want. For me dogs aren’t family they are dogs. Will I mistreat or abuse them? No.

  9. Arturo says

    Great read, and couldn’t agree more! I have a dog, but just because, like the poster above, I was outnumbered. Ever tried planning a family vacation? Or even a weekend out? It quickly grows into a huge affair because of the special accommodations needed, either if you’re bringing the dog, or leaving it at a kennel (heartless!!!)

  10. José Rodriguez says

    I like this posting, as a non-pet owner does not equal “selfish” or “cold.” In fact, it may be the opposite! I grew up on a farm and the animals were often a source of fighting and stress. “Who let the cat out? Why didn’t the goats get fed? The chickens water is freezing solid, why wasn’t it changed?” Granted, there are only two dogs living at the house I grew up in, but they are still a strain. Still tearing up the house, they have to be boarded each time the family goes on vacation and have to be shuffled around, as they don’t get along well and are the size of a small horse. I’m at work 12 hours a day so it wouldn’t be fair to a dog or cat. Plenty of coworkers have pets so I’m fine with working extra long shifts and staying in a company paid for hotel during bad weather. Everyone says how cute pets are but will never express the ‘bad and the ugly.’ What about fleas and ticks? Gross! An unexpected $2,400.00 vet bill because a sock got lodged in Sammy’s stomach? Missed job interview because the dog wouldn’t come in the house when called? Stepping in fresh cat puke?Litter smell? Complaining neighbors, loss of sleep and police notices because of a barking or mean dog? Picking up poop, paying $40.00 more in pent rent a month and replacing destroyed items? Puppy classes that didn’t work, a black hardwood floor where the cat peed, and fighting about who’s going to walk the poodle on a wet, cold Saturday morning? No thank you! I have some stuffed husky mascots from where I went to college. I love them! They are quiet and always in a good mood. I can take them on vacation and they can travel by plane and we don’t need to find a pet friendly hotel room. And they never cause fights with friends, neighbors, family and guests. Sure, have your pets if you wish. But like Roscoe in the photo, I’m perfectly happy with a well behaved and easygoing stuffed husky.

  11. Hannah Robertson says

    Finally! People that get it. I love animals, but honestly I prefer them everywhere except in my own house making noise and mess. I grew up with a menagerie and I loved them all, but it was often a major source of stress and money when we were already fairly poor. We now have 2 cats and a dog in the home we share with 3 kids and my parents, and I love them, but they stress me out a LOT. IMO, pets often take over a house. They tear up toys, climb in cribs, rip dresses, rip furniture, etc. and I have to keep doors shut 24/7 because of their shedding and destruction. When the cat licks their butt where I need to lay my baby it feels highly uncivilized to me. I don’t know why people deny the negatives. It’s like you are forced to have one to prove something, and that’s just adding to the number abused. I love animals, but I don’t need to have constant affection from a messy creature that digs in their own poop. I name my bathroom spiders, but I don’t like litter box feet in my baby’s crib. That’s how I roll. If you love pets, cool, but don’t judge me for admitting I simply don’t care for the huge responsibility of it. There’s a huge difference in admiring tigers in the zoo and owning a real cat, and for me the benefits don’t outweigh the stress like it does with my children and I’m tired of seeing animals compared to people. They should be loved and treated kindly, but they are still animals and if you die your cat will eat you and then barf you all over your carpet.

  12. Diana Martinelli says

    This article truly is great, it is such a small number of postings of this since we are so shamed.

    THANK YOU!

  13. Beatriz Boop says

    THANK YOU…THANK YOU…THANK YOU.

    I’ve NEVER had a pet, NEVER wanted a pet. My parents both grew up on farms where both my Grandmas said “Animals belong outside, not in the house.”

  14. Lori says

    I loved your post! I needed to read this today. We got into a huge argument over the whole deal about it today. My husband’s sister is constantly telling us to get a pet, adopt a pet, why don’t we have a dog? Or our neighbor saying dogs make you live longer, you could be outside walking with the dog. Well, I’m outside enough doing yardwork. I don’t need to add picking up poo to the mix. Cooking, cleaning, raising kids, running errands, working full-time, volunteering, getting about 10% help around the house, NO WAY. Been there done that with pets before and I got stuck doing all the hard work while the rest of the family basked in the joy of playing with the dogs for an hour or two a day. I’m so sick and tired of people asking why don’t you love animals? I do love animals, but I don’t want anymore. If it’s breathing it requires love, attention, tons of work, money, and constant care. Sorry I already have enough on my plate. On top of that I get stuck picking up neighbors’ dogs poo that they let come in the yard and listening the them yap all night at 2:00 a.m. when trying to sleep. Thanks for your post!

  15. Lori says

    Oh I forgot to mention I too get called “nasty” “selfish” and a “meanie” for not wanting a pet. I’d love to tell my sis-n-law to have another baby at her age and see what she has to say about it? If I have to raise a pup to an adult dog she may as well have another baby. That might shut her the heck up for once. Always different when the shoe is on the other foot. Then she’d say it’s not the same. Can’t win with family members or others that run their mouths with their own agendas. It’s one thing if they would get up off their REARS and HELP but past behavior usually predicts future, so NO WAY!

  16. Animals should be revered and cared for if one decides to own them. If you decide you don’t want to own them, nobody has a right to make you feel like you’re less of a person.
    This is the same mentality with having babies, in my opinion. A lot of people feel “so fulfilled” having children they want to 1) Guilt you into having them. 2) Prevent you from making choices about your right to choose.
    People need to stay out of other people’s business, unless asked. And, when asked, the person being asked STILL has no right to impose their wishes on you.

  17. I’m a current pet owner. I had two little chihuahuas. Cute as a button. One passed away 3 years ago. I still have her sister, 10 years now. And as much as I mourned the loss of one and as much as I love the one that is still wonderfully with us…I have made the declaration to the hubby and kids that once our munchkin passes, I DON’T WANT ANY MORE PETS!!! I’m done. I still love animals. But I’m tired of this added responsibility. Just like kids eventually leave the nest and you get to do all the things you were limited to because of it…SAME DIFFERENCE. I don’t want to spend money on dog food or weewee pads or pay an extra fee for a plane ride or find a special pet friendly hotel when traveling or rush home because the munchkin is all alone or pick up poop….oh how i hate picking up poop or clean up vomit because something didnt agree with her and the hair is everywhere. I know losing her is going to destroy me for quite some time. I miss the quirkiness of the other dog as well. But I need ME time after it all. I want a few less things to worry about. Having pets has been part of most of my life….time for it not to be anymore.

  18. April says

    I was so glad to read this! I have two dogs and a cat, all adopted and all unwanted by me. I made it very clear i didn’t want pets, especially the dogs. My husband literally wrote out a contract of what he would do if i would consent. His duties included all feeding, bathing, walking, putting in and out of yard, etc. Do i even have to say i do everything? If i don’t the animals don’t eat or go outside. I did not want the pit. Here is super friendly but it worries me He might get out. We can’t afford the pets but nobody would listen when i brought this up. Turns out the pit has allergies so he needs extremely expensive food or else we come home to huge piles of diarrhea every day. I’m not exaggerating. Multiple piles. I can’t feel comfortable in my own home. I feel dirty and itchy all the time. I also resent the money spent on them. If i had my way i would never have pets again. Ever.

    By the way, it is not selfish or mean to not want animals running through their own feces then jumping in your bed. It is selfish and mean to bring animals to a home where they aren’t wanted by everyone who lives there.

  19. I understand wholeheartedly what you are saying. Most of my friends that have animals are of the opinion that I hate animals, which is far from the truth. Firstly, it hurts me to my heart to see animals cooped up in apartments, be it small or large, and more so being leashed. I would be very upset if I was taken out of my natural habitat, placed in a restricted environment and leashed. That is truly how I feel. Every living being is granted free will by the Creator, including animals. Secondly, I am a very orderly and meticulous individual who do not want animal dander in my home or parasites which animals carry. Anyone who has animals have animal parasites, anyone visiting people with animals will pick up parasites or even touching pet owners. I cannot imagine having an animal in my bed and having an animal lick my face. That is absolute NASTY to say the least. I don’t allow animals in my home, nor do I visit people who have animals. For these reasons, I hate animals? Absolutely not, I empathize with animals because of what human beings are doing to them.

  20. I stand with you on this subject. Pets are great for other people not myself currently. I recently broke up with a girl because she thought it was no big deal to let a 180 lb dog into bed. I explained, if she didn’t mind me working a farm and then crawling into bed with my boots ,we wouldn’t have a problem. Somehow, that wasn’t the same and I was accused of being a “Dog hater”. Call me crazy but getting dog drool on my open back or stomach makes me sick, it’s not cute.

    Fast forward to a recent roommate. I explained to my roommate that I would help out occasionally with some of his dog tasks daily. I was thinking, hey could you let out the dog I am going to be late or I ran into a bind can you help me out. I guess the expectation was I work from home and your daily duty is to let out my dog. Well, I offered suggestions, maybe get a dog walker, talk to someone about helping you more out. Nothing was done, so I stopped offering goodwill. The dog started to go the bathroom in his bedroom and he got mad. Previously in the living room and chewed things so she got isolation while he was gone. Didn’t get mad or say anything as he went through 12 paper towel rolls and carpet cleaner I purchased. Just offered advice on crate training and got an excuse for why she did it. He said he needed to find a solution to the problem and I agreed but nothing happened. The dog continued to go the bathroom in his room and I was accused of not stepping up. I explained that I do not want the responsibility of the dog and that he is responsible. The explanation that I would take care of the dog was tossed and I explained that yes but a daily expectation was unreasonable. The dog hater label came out, and I explained that I am not offering free child service either so I must hate children. I asked if he looked for alternative solutions and somehow that didn’t occur.

    There is a common theme between both people, pet accountability. I have owned dogs for almost 22 years. My dogs didn’t sleep in my bed and got the boot if they did. I didn’t expect other people to take care of them. If you can not handle accountability of your pet and expect others to pick up the slack, you shouldn’t own a pet. I applaud your post for realizing and actually forward thinking about owning an animal. You are not a bad person for thinking it just a realist, maybe to others the “evil dog hater”.:-) Just remember, when you are having a nice dinner out on the town, you wouldn’t need to worry about picking up dog poop if you decide to get an ice cream.

  21. Russ Merritt says

    Thank god, I am not alone. I feel just as you do. I don’t hate animals. I just don’t want them in my home.

  22. Exactly how I feel. I don’t want the responsibility of a pet. I don’t like animals as much as most people but I certainly don’t hate them and still think their cute.
    I just don’t see the appeal of taking care of a pet and putting all that work (and money) in.
    I have a toddler and having a child is hard work but worth it. I could never love a let as much as her though. To me an animal will never equal a person. And you’re not expected to love every person you meet why do people with pets expect you to love every animal you meet.
    I also had a fear of dogs as a child (no traumatic experience, just irrational fear) and a general anxiety around animals. I never quiet got over my nervousness and won’t pick up animals except for my mom’s cat that we got when I was older. And while I loved the cat, I certainly don’t want another.
    But I just find dogs pretty gross even the cute ones and get easily annoyed by them and I don’t think this makes me horrible. It’s not like I’m forcing anyone to agree with me, just want people tostop trying to force me into a whole lot of work and annoyance just so I can be living how THEY think is best.

  23. commom sense says

    I agree so much with this article. I despise pets in the home. I don’t care how much you clean it still smells like a pet home. The hair. There is nothing else to say except, the hair. It is always there and never goes away.

    I really hate it. I take pride in being clean and well groomed and having animal hair on my clothes, floors, or furniture disgusts me.

    Pet people need to realize that pets are NOT people. So often pet keeping people are animal rights activists, anti-hunters, blah blah blah because the “like animals better than people”. Please come to your senses. Keeping a cat or a dog is no different than keeping a sheep or chicken in the house.

  24. yourmother says

    I was with her up until the last part of having kids. Nope, no pets, no kids. I’m good.

  25. Sally says

    I can totally relate. My husband and I both grew up with pets but don’t want any right now. I’m pregnant with my second baby now. We’re both 31. We’d like to have 3-4 children first, and then think about pets. The way I see it, you have a limited time in which you can have kids (basically your 20’s and early 30’s) but you have your entire life to have pets. You can get a dog when you’re 50 or 60, whenever. Sure you might be able to have a child in your late 30’s but you might have trouble and might require expensive fertility treatments if you wait too long. Also, you’ll be an old parent which is rough. Our plan is after having 4 kids, we might get a dog when the kids are grown up but we don’t have grandkids yet.

  26. Deb says

    I have 2 cats. I’m 38 and these were the first pets I owned myself. I got them as kittens. I’m being totally honest when I say if I had known, I would never have gotten them. I love one with all my heart and get really upset when I think about rehoming him. They cause me great anxiety. They forced their way to breaking out of my apt to spemd time outside daily. I HATE that they poop outside, then step where I sleep. I can’t clip their nails since they need them outside so I’m always on edge. I have had to take them to be dewormed from hanging outside. The neighbors put up netting since they pooped in their yard. I wish I xould reverse that decision. I’ve gotten fat because of them. If a had a big yard with a cat fence I’d have less anxiety as I would know they would not get injured or totured outside and they would not poop in someone’s yard. But I don’t have that. Please I wish I could reverse it and never got them. Oh and I forgot to mention they make moving impossible, very expensive, and you are never free again to take trips.

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