Editor's Letter: Where is the love? Hug your family, not your cat


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The Independent Online


“I didn’t get where I am today” by under-estimating the veracity of pretty much everything my Ma told me – except perhaps that you have to blitz liver ’til it bounces in order to be able to eat it. God, I loved Reggie Perrin and CJ.

Her frequent observation as an immigrant who appreciates so much about life here, is: “the British, they love their animals more than their children.” And particularly, that we show more affection to pets than each other.

Now she has statistical evidence to back up her anecdotal observations (she’ll be unbearable). Half the pet-owners surveyed admitted they would “prefer to hug their pets than a close relative when they were feeling low”. One in five has cancelled plans so they can be with a pet and an astonishing 10 per cent have taken one to a christening or a wedding.

What is more disturbing? That 15 per cent said they confided their problems to their pets (to be fair, they are likely to be more sympathetic than Virginia Ironside), or that a quarter of pet-owners view their pets more like a child?

Actually, I am going to resist my every inclination to mock. I think it’s great people love and are kind to pets, and can see why the young and old in particular depend on them so much.

The big BUT? This survey is a sad commentary on our society: regardless of what the Mail says, we still do not express our emotions to each other as freely as many other cultures. And I witness such formality and lack of tactility in some families. It makes me so sad I might tell my daughter’s cat about it.

So, seriously, give someone you love a call or even a hug today. I know, I know, I’m repeating myself on this one. Perhaps they should change the editor. Oh…