What is anthropomorphism? Why should we be careful with our animals?


We love our pets so much that we sometimes treat them like Human being. This practice, which is often unintentional, is called anthropomorphism. However, humanizing the emotions of our dogs and cats can lead to errors of judgment and harm their well-being. Explanations.

Anthropomorphism: what is it?

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of characteristics human beings to other entities such as deities, objects, phenomena or animals… The term comes from the ancient Greek ánthrōpos (human being) and morphḗ (form). In Western societies, anthropomorphism has become a growing phenomenon in the relationships established by man with his dog or cat. The owner then tends to act with his animal as he would with a human being and to personalize emotions and character traits. He then sees his furball as jealous, exclusive, selfish, understanding or vengeful …

Some examples of anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is reflected, for example, in the choice of the name for one’s animal. Marcel, Bernard, Hugo … so many human names attributed to dogs which, like cats, are also given affectionate nicknames such as “baby” or “darling”. Some owners celebrate their beast’s birthday and Christmas every year by offering them gifts like toys or treats. Our furballs are also featured in the photos hanging on the wall alongside the family portraits. Another case of anthropomorphic behavior involves sharing one’s sofa or his bed with his animals. Faced with this trend, luxury hotels have developed to provide services to canine and feline customers. top of the line. Specially designed furnishings, soft cushions, cabins, perches, rooms and suites (with television) equipped with webcam are today worthy of the greatest palaces.

Anthropomorphism and errors of judgment

Giving human emotions to animals can be a source of misunderstanding. Below, 5 cases misinterpretation.

  • The dog and sterilization. Some owners refuse the sterilization of their dogs which they consider to be mutilation. The arguments generally put forward are that the male will lose his virility while the female will be depressed if she does not have at least one litter in her life. The idea according to which castration causes the animal to suffer psychically by depriving it of sexuality is erroneous because, deprived of testosterone, it will no longer have any sexual need, which it cannot therefore lack. As for the bitch, no study shows her desire for reproduction and her maternal instinct arises just after giving birth;
  • The dog and contrition. Good and evil are notions based on religious or philosophical principles that the dog would be hard pressed to know. On the other hand, he observes you constantly and knows how to decipher your moods and intentions according to your intonations and your gestures. If he hides after doing something stupid, it is because he feels he is going to be reprimanded. In the same way, if he comes to lick you, it is more to show his victory than to be forgiven;
  • The dog and revenge. If, in your absence, your dog has defecated in the house or destroyed furniture, you deduce that he has taken revenge for your departure. However, in the event of hyper-attachment, the animal feels stress and boredom which it will fill by turning to a occupation alternative: that of relieving oneself inside or of attacking the objects which surround it. In reality, his behavior is not revenge but expresses his discomfort;
  • The cat and jealousy. When a tom cat urinates on the bed where his new partner sleeps, we sometimes deduce that he is jealous because we take less care of him than before. This feeling involves mechanisms cognitive typically human that animals do not know. In reality, the arrival of an individual in the household, animal or person, represents a change in the routine cat or even a threat that can generate stress and anxiety. This instinctive reaction, which is also found in dogs, is normal for an animal attached to its territory and to the protection of resources;
  • The cat and the food. As a carnivore, the cat has specific needs that are far removed from those of its owners. Worse, certain foods highly appreciated by humans can turn out to be dangerous, even fatal for felines. Even in small quantities, some products are sometimes poorly digested, which is why it is strongly recommended not to give cats the remains of our plates. The following are to be avoided: milk, chocolate, raw fish, garlic, onion, shallot, avocado or grapes….

Anthropomorphism and animals: conclusion

We have all seen dogs dressed in eccentric outfits, wearing hats, wearing glasses in photos or videos. By making them look like little men, some owners indulge themselves before they care about the well-being of their companions. To confer human faculties and feelings to our quadrupeds can distort the comprehension of their real emotions and lead to misinterpretations. When a master thinks that his animal is lucky that he has nothing to do with his days, he denies his feelings because nothing is worse than spending his time in to be bored and to long for the return of his family. According to researchers, by forcing their hairball to perform actions that they neither need nor have the ability to do, anthropomorphism leads them to mistreat their animal in such a way. involuntary.