What are Furkids?

wiseGEEK Writer

Are pets people too? That question drives one of the definitions of the term furkids. Furkids are basically animals — usually cats and most often dogs, that are treated very much like people. Certainly domesticated pets and humans have extensive, historically verifiable close bonds. Anyone who has lost a pet can attest to the pain and grief felt on such an occasion. Pets that become furkids though aren’t just treated as animals, but tend to have all the benefits (or possibly hazards) of human things too.

A kitten is sometimes considered to be a furkid.
A kitten is sometimes considered to be a furkid.

In recent years, you may have noted the many celebrities who appear in public with pets, that are usually dressed to the nines with special clothing and often very expensive collars. These furkids are occupying a place that is not traditional for domestic pets by accompanying owners to red carpet events or just around town to all the places owners go. Sometimes, children don’t even get this kind of special treatment.

Pet owners should make sure their furkids get plenty of exercise.
Pet owners should make sure their furkids get plenty of exercise.

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Many things that pet owners would do for their furkids such as lavishing them with gifts, toys, expensive beds and clothing aren’t exactly harmful, provided such things are pet safe. Some people conclude though that attention given to furkids, especially in things like manicures for dogs or extra bows for cats aren’t really necessary. They do represent extras pets really don’t need, and some people argue financial excesses spent on pets would be better served benefiting charities that help save less cared for animals or that serve needy children.

Some argue that creating furkids as opposed to just owning a pet represents mistaken priorities about the world. Others though, counter that they adore their pets and truly find them necessary. Moreover, most places are still “free countries” where people have the right to choose how to spend their money.

Where pets being turned into furkids can be problematic most for the animals, is when they receive things they shouldn’t have or are so indulged they become behavioral problems. Television programs devoted to retraining dogs frequently feature this issue. People who view animals as kids may want to be loved by those animals, and don’t want to be considered harsh or mean. Unfortunately animal behavior is different than human behavior, and constantly caving to a cute puppy’s demands may convince the puppy that it is in charge of the house. This can be of detriment when the puppy grows up and still wants to rule the household and its owner.

Others err by indulging their pets too much, as in the matter of giving treats. Overweight animals tend to live shorter lives and have greater medical problems as they age. Attending to the dog’s true needs, such as adequate food and exercise may create a happier and healthier dog than one that always gets a treat when it begs.

As to clothing, beds, and fancy collars, these aren’t likely to harm pets. The main risk to these animals is creating pets with behavior problems that go from being somebody’s beloved kids to sitting in shelters because they can no longer be controlled. Vets suggest pet parents of furkids understand that animals can be very wonderful, inspiring strong emotional connections, but need to be understood as animals and treated accordingly. In the end, this may benefit both pets and their parents.

Furkid-pet owners will typically splurge on their animal's supplies.
Furkid-pet owners will typically splurge on their animal's supplies.

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