Where Fur Babies Come From

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Tim Kreider suspects that Americans’ high spending on their pets “may be symptomatic of the same chronic deprivation as are the billion-dollar industries in romance novels and porn”:

I’ve speculated that people have a certain reservoir of affection that they need to express, and in the absence of any more appropriate object– a child or a lover, a parent or a friend – they will lavish that same devotion on a pug or a Manx or a cockatiel, even on something neurologically incapable of reciprocating that emotion, like a monitor lizard or a day trader or an aloe plant. Konrad Lorenz confirms this suspicion in his book On Aggression, in which he describes how, in the absence of the appropriate triggering stimulus for an instinct, the threshold of stimulus for that instinct is gradually lowered; for instance, a male dove deprived of female doves will attempt to initiate mating with a stuffed pigeon, a rolled-up cloth or any vaguely bird-shaped object, and, eventually, with an empty corner of its cage.

(Photo by Nate Pesce)