It seems counterintuitive to think that someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) who can’t generate empathy for the people in their life would actually love their pets. Narcissists are known for their selfish, arrogant behavior and the fact that they see everything in their life as a mere extension of themselves. You would think someone like that simply wouldn’t be able to love animals, but the issue is more complicated than that makes it seem.
Narcissists are human, after all, and some of them can be very good pet owners while others are abusive. It’s difficult to say whether those who are good pet owners actually love their pets or are simply using them to help create an image of ‘animal lover,’ but they do take good care of them.
Before you allow a narcissist around your pet, however, you’ll want to read on for specific details related to how some narcissists view and treat their pets. It is more complicated when you consider the specific traits of narcissistic personality disorder.
Do Narcissists Prefer Dogs or Cats?
When you consider that narcissists want everyone in their life to focus solely on them and spend a lot of time trying to control them so they will do just that, you might understand why many narcissists would prefer dogs. Dogs give unconditional love to their owners, they focus on them exclusively, and they are relatively easy to control.
Dogs are like a dream pet for the narcissist, and in some cases, they can help when human friends and family start to distance themselves from the narcissist. Business owner Terry Hayward, whose mother was a narcissist, states, “This dog came in very handy when my mom’s friends started realizing what she was about (why does it always take people so long to see this!) and started disappearing.”
Cats are less easy to control, and they are less generous with their loving attention. They are more difficult to train and definitely more independent in nature. For those reasons, they are not an ideal pet for a narcissist.
How Do Narcissists View Their Pet?
Like with the people in their life, the narcissist views their pet as an extension of themself. They see the animal as another way they can craft their image for the world to see, and therefore, if the animal is well-behaved and healthy, they are seen as a good pet owner and animal lover.
For that reason, they can even be obsessive about caring for their furry friends since they wouldn’t want the world to know they are abusive or neglectful. Sometimes, they even treat their pets better than the people in their lives as Reddit user AbuseInterrupted points out regarding their narcissistic mother and how she treated the pets in their household, “Don’t get me wrong, I like animals too, but sometimes I feel like she cares more about animals than me.”
While the narcissist may go to great pains to be seen as a good pet owner, they can also be abusive when they lose control of the animal. They may sometimes harshly punish their pets who don’t do as commanded. They see their defiant behavior as a personal affront to them. Of course, the animal isn’t doing it to annoy them, but they believe it is, and that can trigger their narcissistic rage.
How Will Narcissists Treat Your Pets?
This is where the narcissist’s true colors show through their false self. While it wouldn’t be correct to say that all narcissists do this, many narcissists will use your pet or pets you share together as tools to manipulate you.
If you talk about leaving them, for example, they might threaten to keep one of your beloved pets as a way to get you to change your mind. If you are taking the pets when you go, they will tell you how the animals will die of loneliness when you leave them alone to go to work or that you’re being unfair by keeping them away from the narcissist.
What’s more, narcissists have unrealistic expectations of animal behavior, just like they do with people. They expect the animal to know what it is they need and respond accordingly. Any misbehavior is seen as a personal defiance of the narcissist, something the animal is doing purposefully to hurt or annoy them.
They will also expect that the animal can fill the voids left by the people in their life, and that’s often not possible. When the animal doesn’t do what the narcissist expects, they can become physically abusive. The fear this generates in the animal only serves to make the narcissist feel more powerful.
Can I Trust a Narcissist to Care for My Pet When I’m Away?
Of course, some narcissists may be good pet caretakers, but many times, they will neglect or outright abuse your animal while you’re away. They may tease the animal until it snaps at the narcissist to tell them to stop. If that happens, they might turn to harsh punishment or they might neglect the animal as a form of punishment.
You might also find that they ‘accidentally’ let your beloved pet out of the house. This can become a pattern if they feel you pay too much attention to the animal rather than the narcissist. They may also use the so-called accidental escapes to blame you for being a bad pet owner who has a disobedient dog.
The narcissist might also use your time away to set your pet up for bad behavior. For example, if you have a dog that gets into the trash, they might leave the lid off your trashcan so the dog will get into it. Then, they have an excuse to punish the dog and tell you about it as well. Frequently, the narcissist sees your pet as competition for your attention. If they feel they can get you to align with them against your own pet, they feel they have won.
Narcissists are like other people, and some of them love animals and are good pet owners while others aren’t. They frequently have unreasonable expectations of their pets, and when their pets don’t live up to those expectations, the narcissist can become abusive or neglectful. They can also be very good pet owners, however, particularly being an ‘animal lover’ fits well with their false image.
Pets can often buffer the narcissist against loneliness when they begin losing the people in their life. When a narcissist doesn’t like pets, however, they can be abusive and neglectful. Basically, they see the animal in much the same way as they see people — as something that suits their carefully constructed image or not. When they do suit them, narcissists can be good with animals, and when it doesn’t, it can become a bad situation.
Understanding how narcissists view animals gives you more insight into how they think, and you’ll also want to learn more about how they view other people like you’ll learn in this video about how they treat their friends. It will give you even more insight into their disorder.
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