Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Some of us are more comfortable with the animal world than the human one. Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and dozens of suspense novels and short stories, was known to prefer the company of animals to people. "She was very happy among cats," said a literary curator familiar with her life. "They gave her a closeness that she could not bear in the long-term from people. She needed cats for her psychological balance." Highsmith also raised snails and infamously took a handbag full of them to a dinner party, calling them her companions for the evening.
The results of a new survey on humans' relationships to their pets surely wouldn't have surprised Highsmith, but they might surprise you — unless you're the snails-in-purses type. The animal charity Brooke surveyed 2,000 British women and found that one in 10 ladies claim to love their pet more than their partner. One-third also said they loved the two equally. Yipes.
More than half of the respondents reported seeking comfort with their pet after fighting with their significant other, while 39% admitted their feelings increase for their animal friends when they get no attention from their partners. Less surprisingly, 81% said they consider their pets as members of their families.
Why this study was limited to women, we don't know. Surely this affection crosses gender lines, just as it crosses species lines. After all, The Brooke is a global animal-advocacy organization devoted to helping work animals, such as donkeys and horses, and their owners, not just dogs and cats. "The Brooke works very closely with people who rely on their animals for their livelihoods and we know that animals are much happier when they share this mutual bond with their owner," the organization wrote in a statement.