A pet or companion animal is an animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, or entertainment rather than as a working animal, livestock, or laboratory animal. This is more a fun thought experiment than anything else, and we definitely don’t recommend you go looking for some of these critters to adopt. (In many places, doing so would be illegal.) And while these five animals got tentative interest from the scientific team, other groups the researchers had evaluate their characteristics suggested none of the 90 animals on the initial list could responsibly be turned into pets.
The effect of human-animal interaction on health is not fully understood because it is difficult to study. Most evidence on the benefits of having a pet comes from surveys of current health, but that means it is impossible to know if a person is in good health because she has a pet or if he is more likely to get a pet because he is in good health. Someone whose health is poor may decide he does not have the time or energy to care for a pet. The German study described above suggests that having a pet for a longer period of time is more beneficial to your health; but it is also possible that people with pets have less time to spare to go to the doctor or are less concerned about their own health, especially minor ailments.
So, has this case caused me to throw in the towel and abandon the theory that humans are the only species to keep pets? I have to admit that the capuchin-marmoset relationship has caused me moments of doubt. I am not, however, ready to give up the idea for a couple of reasons. First, while the capuchins were not confined, the situation was not completely natural as they were given food every day as part of a program designed to promote ecotourism at the research site. Second, it is unclear whether this is pet-keeping or adoption In their article, the researchers called it adoption, but in an e-mail Dorothy agreed with me that there is an obvious parallel between with the relationship that the capuchins had with Fortunata and that I have with my cat Tilly, who I also play with, feed, and converse with in baby-talk.
As I explore in my new book , there are two problems with these claims. First, there are a similar number of studies that suggest that pets have no or even a slight negative impact on health. Second, pet owners don’t live any longer than those who have never entertained the idea of having an animal about the house, which they should if the claims were true. And even if they were real, these supposed health benefits only apply to today’s stressed urbanites, not their hunter-gatherer ancestors, so they cannot be considered as the reason that we began keeping pets in the first place.
Respect for animal welfare is often based on the belief that non-human animals are sentient and that consideration should be given to their well-being or suffering , especially when they are under the care of humans. 4 These concerns can include how animals are slaughtered for food, how they are used in scientific research, how they are kept (as pets, in zoos, farms, circuses, etc.), and how human activities affect the welfare and survival of wild species.