It's hard to stay mad at your pets, even when they're pooping on your sheets or chewing on your Mr. T action figure collection (to clean the delicious poop out of their teeth, of course). After all, your pets are just creatures of instinct. You may reprimand them, but you'd never just outright hurt them, as -- we're giving you the benefit of the doubt here -- you're not a total SOB. But you may be unwittingly engaging in behaviors that are making your pet's life a living hell.
One of the best things about pets is how affectionate they are. For example, Rover will just smash his face into your arm when it's petting time (which, by the way, starts now and ends seconds before the heat death of the universe). Mittens, on the other hand, instinctively knows when you're stressed from taxes, so she'll do her best to distract you by splaying her body across your keyboard, knocking those bad old spreadsheets out of sight and out of mind.
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"Your attempts at productivity will prove futile. You will be broken."
But it turns out that our understanding of pet affection may be a bit flawed. Back in 2010, an innocent-looking children's book called Smooch Your Pooch caused a stir with pet advocacy groups. This book was published to teach little kids about the proper ways to interact with their pets, and by "proper" we actually mean "absolute worst."
Yes, Smooch Your Pooch advocated such a fucktrociously backward model of pet stewardship that the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior drew up a press release regarding the book, which can be succinctly summarized as "NO NO NO NO."
It was the first book to earn this kind of condemnation since Head-Butt Your Pit Bull, He Can Take It.
You see, hugging, kissing, or getting your face too close to a dog's face is going to make that dog mad. Even the most good-natured, kid-friendly dogs are still animals, and -- like any other animal -- they can become annoyed or frightened when you smother them with claustrophobic affection. But don't tell that to the author of Smooch Your Pooch, who instructed wee ones to hug their dogs "anytime, anywhere" ...
Hand them a steak and then tear it away, dogs love that shit!
... and to feed their pups pizza, even though onions and garlic are toxic to dogs.
Because he's suicidal.
From all of that kibble.
Seriously, this book may as well have been called Smooch That Really Big Homophobic Football Player in Front of His Extremely Judgmental Peer Group.
Roll the dice, kid. You've lived long enough.
How's this for a familiar situation: You, the sociable cat owner, are entertaining guests in your home. Everyone's sitting around, minding their own business, until the cat wanders into the room. Immediately, your friend group splits in two -- everyone who loves cats starts cooing like utter lunatics and invitingly slapping their laps, while the dog people (and the hopelessly allergic) ignore your four-legged toxoplasmosis bomb.
And then what does the cat do? It walks right past the babbling peanut gallery and starts cuddling with those stone-hearted souls who have zero interest in getting cat hair all over their crotches.
"I just can't get comfortable without the sound of someone's lungs closing up."
What's up with that? You see, cats use extended eye contact to display aggression or dominance, whereas looking away is either submission or an invitation for affection. So does that mean you can never look at your cat again?
Of course not. If you want to look at your cat but not come off as a jerkwad, just meet its gaze and then blink very, very slowly, a gesture that reassures it that you are not a threat or competitor. You can also go that extra mile and try exchanging blinks in Morse code, but that may simply reveal that your cat has been silently swearing at you for years.
"You are one thumb and one Glock away from a fancy feast of lead."
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Animals are famous for eating just about any goddamned thing they find. If a dog happily eats cat shit it finds in the street, then it seems impossible to screw up at feeding time. Yet a few seconds of Google searching will turn up long lists of all of the seemingly harmless foods that will straight up murder Fluffy if he eats enough of them. For instance, we have previously mentioned that, contrary to what decades of Warner Bros. cartoons taught you, rabbits cannot subsist on carrots (if you didn't know that, you shouldn't feel too bad, since only 8 percent of rabbit owners do).
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Which makes this stock photo super unsettling.
All right, so what about cats? Give a stranger a kitten, and the first thing they'll do is give him a little saucer of milk. That's fine, right? Nope! Despite what virtually every facet of our culture has ever told you about cats, milk is actually super bad for them. In fact, they don't even have enough of the enzyme necessary to process the stuff, so it's not even an "in moderation" thing: They're biologically lactose intolerant.
All right, so what else have we seen cartoon cats eat, other than lasagna? Fish, right? Surely the key to a healthy feline is a nice can of tuna every day. Nope again -- while tuna isn't poisonous to them, a steady diet of it can lead to nutrient deficiencies and a dreadful (if unthreateningly named) condition known as "yellow fat disease."
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We would have gone with "Garfield Syndrome."
And if you think your cat-shit-eating dog is any less picky, think again. Vets will tell you you should never give your dog bones or raw meat (both once again in open defiance of everything cartoons have taught us), as well as other seemingly harmless things like raisins and dairy. Again, it's not like the animal is going to instantly explode the moment its tongue touches the offending substance -- the effects manifest themselves over time, in the form of allergies, constant scratching, or the ever-popular "diarrhea all over the new carpet."