Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pets and cultural differences

It's funny sometimes what we take for granted and believe to be "universal" knowledge when in fact everything is so relative. For example, I recently had some visitors from non-Western cultures and their reactions to Moo made me realize that house pets are not universal.

For example, Moo fell in love with one guest. Initially, the guest was alarmed when Moo jumped next to him on the couch and laid out in all of his Moo-y glory to be petted. I asked him if he wanted me to remove Moo. He didn't, but was worried that Moo was going to bite him. "No worries," I said. "He's super friendly."

Indeed, Moo and the guest became very good friends in a short time as the guest petted Moo. However, he was worried about Moo, asking if something was wrong with Moo's breathing. I listened and laughed. Nope, Moo was just happy and purring! My guest comes from a place where there are cats but they are usually feral so he hadn't encountered purring before. I'm glad that Moo was such a good pet ambassador.


  1. Yes, and it is so important for pet owners not to feel insulted. I typically get rather negative responses of dog owners when I tell them that I really do not like dogs, their behavior, their smell, that I am indeed afraid and disgusted when dogs are around. Most dog owners have a hard time accepting my feelings. Instead, they often act as if I was insane or get angry and act as if they were personally insulted.

    So yes, you are spot on, and your point extends to sub-cultures within a country.

  2. I agree that it's important to realize that not everyone is comfortable with pets. I ask my guests if they're comfortable with cats and offer to remove Moo to another room if they're not. No one has wanted him to be removed but I do warn them that he might try to sit behind them on the back of the couch or might even crawl into their laps, which they were okay with too. I could imagine that it could be frightening initially if people aren't accustomed to it so I offer options.