Have you ever wondered how narcissists and pets fit together? It’s a very interesting topic and while each situation is different, the common thread is always the same.
Having narcissists in my life from the moment I was born to the flip side of getting divorced, I have witnessed the dynamics of narcissists and pets for many years. From the loving moments of seeming adoration, to complete and utter contempt. Narcissists can be wonderful and horrendous towards their pets all in the same breath.
This begs the question, do narcissists love their pets? Do they genuinely care about them and can they make good pet owners?
As with anything narcissism, owning a pet is all about what the pet provides for the narcissist, not the other way around.
“But I’ve seen narcissists treat their dogs like kings,” I hear you say! Yes, that is true, narcissists can treat their pets amazingly well, however, if there wasn’t anything in it for the narc, they wouldn’t do so.
Interestingly, many of the tactics discussed here are often used with children as well, especially when you’re dealing with separation, divorce and custody issues.
So, let’s dig deeper to find out the harsh truth about narcissists and pets.
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Narcissists and Pets
How Do Narcissists Treat their Pets?
It’s important to understand that narcissists do not even view people as independent, sovereign beings with their own needs, wants and desires. So, it just makes sense that they cannot view their pets in that way either.
To narcissists, their pets are mere extensions of themselves. Some narcissistic pet owners treat their pets like prized possessions, just like they would their shiny sports car. Since the pet is a direct reflection of them, they must make sure that the world views their pet as superior (just like they view themselves).
Narcissists must control everything in their world and their pet is no exception. Their pets are there to serve them and if they fail to stack up to the narcissist’s expectations, the narc will either punish them or completely discard them.
Narcissists treat their pets as items, in which they own. Therefore, if the pet makes a mess or misbehaves, the narcissist can fly into a rage, going from 0-100 in a matter of seconds. In their warped version of reality, the pet has now intentionally set out to make them look bad or piss them off, which must not go unpunished. How dare they!
To put it another way, the pet’s negative behaviour will generate a narcissistic injury, meaning that a deep insecurity within the narcissist is triggered. However, the narcissist refuses to acknowledge the existence of that insecurity, so they immediately project their feeling onto the pet. In other words, the narcissist will perceive it as a personal attack, which the ego will not tolerate.
For example, let’s say the narcissist’s dog is pent up in a tiny yard for twelve hours a day, bored out of its brain. So, the dog pulls some of the washing off the line and spends the day playing with it. Rather than the narcissist looking at themselves as to why the pet may have acted that way, they immediately project their inner critic onto the dog. To them, it’s the dog’s fault for making them feel a millisecond of guilt around the dog’s boredom, therefore the dog is lined up by the ego and attacked as a way of eliminating that extremely uncomfortable feeling.
A pet is merely another prop for the narcissist to use in order to gain supply and keep their public facade in place.
Do Narcissists Love Their Pets?
People can only meet others as deeply as they’ve met themselves. Narcissists are so incredibly self-avoidant that they utterly refuse to meet themselves.
On top of that, the narcissist denied the existence of their True Self years ago, because that aspect of themselves was seen as weak and vulnerable. When they severed that connection, they also eliminated the very things from their consciousness that make us inherently human. Feelings such as empathy, compassion, kindness, authenticity and unconditional love have all gone.
The narcissist does not have the resources or desire to ever truly experience love in this lifetime. To them, ‘love’ is that good feeling when they get a hit of supply in the form of control, adoration or attention. They see love as what they get from others, rather than being a wholehearted experience of giving and receiving from true authenticity.
So, in short, no, narcissists do not love their pets. Narcissists do not have the capacity to love anything or anyone, therefore they cannot feel authentic love for their pets.
What the narcissist actually means when they say, “I love my pet:”
- “I love how good this pet makes me look.”
- “I love how much my pet loves me.”
- “I love being able to have complete and utter control over my pet.”
- “I love how my pet adores me, no matter how I treat it.”
- “I love that my pet doesn’t talk back to me.”
- “I love that my pet accepts my version of events without question.”
Narcissists ‘love’ what the pet gives to them. It’s not a two-way street.
Do Narcissists Prefer Dogs or Cats?
Combining my observations of narcissists and pets over the years, as well as what we now understand about narcissism, dogs seem to be much more preferred. That’s not to say narcissists can’t own cats, there are certainly some who do, but most narcissist pet owners have dogs.
You see, dogs are the ultimate servant to any master. All they do is love, no matter how they get treated or what scraps they get thrown. Dogs will be eagerly awaiting the narcissist’s arrival at the end of each day, hoping for any affection they can get. If the dog is cruelly punished for misbehaviour, the dog will cower underneath the narcissist’s power and do anything to get back into their master’s good graces.
Cats on the other hand are extremely independent. They do not follow their master around, like a good, loyal servant. Cats are likely to ignore their owners, which does not bode well with a narcissist. Cats are off doing their own thing all day until they want some food, then they’ll wander in and request a meal. In fact, to be considered in the world of a cat, you must bow to them.
As we know, narcissists see themselves as the most important and certainly will not bow to a mere pet. It must be the other way around as the narcissist believes that they are the ones to be revered at all times.
Narcissists prefer dogs, since they are easy to control and willingly supply the narcissist with undivided attention, asking for very little in return.
Cats are independent of the narcissist, meaning that they cannot be controlled, which the narc hates. Nor do cats offer constant adoration.
Can Narcissists Be Good Pet Owners?
Narcissists can be amazing pet owners, depending on how they see their pets and what’s in it for them. However, they can also be extremely cruel pet owners.
If their pet is merely the mongrel out the back for them to kick around and assert control over, then no, the narcissist will be a horrendous pet owner. They will be outright abusive and think that they have every right to be. After all, they ‘own’ the pet, therefore they can do whatever they want to it.
Alternatively, if the pet is the narcissist’s object of grandeur, then it’s a totally different story. This type of pet makes them look stunning and grants them lots of attention, admiration and narcissistic supply, so the narc is a fantastic pet owner.
They will treat their grandiose pet no different to an expensive car or piece of property. Being well-dressed, getting groomed every week and dining on the best food is how that pet can expect to be treated. It’s not that they truly love their pet, but because the pet is seen as an extension of themselves, the pet must appear exceptional, in turn making the narcissist look and feel superior.
But don’t be mistaken, the grandiose pet is held to incredibly high expectations. Since it’s being used as a tool to uphold a certain appearance, the pet is expected to be behaviourally and aesthetically perfect at all times or else punishment with ensue.
Narcissists can treat their pets like royalty or less than the dirt underneath their shoe – it all depends on what’s in it for the narcissist.
Narcissists Use Pets As An Unconditional Love Source (Supply)
Narcissists are ruled by their ego’s false self, which demands constant attention and adoration. The more their ego gets fed, the higher (and better) the narcissist feels.
Without that inflated false self, they are left to sink deep inside themselves and therein lies the empty, dark black hole, which is all that’s left. The narcissist unconsciously amputated access to their true divine self a long time ago and with that, they removed the capacity to feel anything remotely close to unconditional love.
So, while the narcissist is incapable of giving unconditional love to any other living creature, they demand that very love from those around them. However, everything that they receive is merely absorbed as narcissistic supply, it’s not actually felt as love. A narcissist does not have the resources to experience real love, so to them, ‘love’ is when they get a hit of their favourite drug (life force energy), which makes them temporarily feel good.
Dogs in particular offer a limitless source of unconditional love and attention, all directed towards the narcissist. On top of that, dogs expect almost nothing in return. What a perfect energetic transaction for the narcissist!
The narcissist uses the pet for the unconditional love that the pet offers, which feeds the narcissist with life force energy.
The pet doesn’t demand ‘love’ in return like a human would, therefore the narcissist can enjoy the relationship whereby they do all of the taking and the pet does all of the giving.
Narcissists Acquire Pets to Boost their Status
Narcissists are obsessed with appearances and status because those two things directly funnel in narcissistic supply from the outside world.
Many narcissists are likely to view particular breeds of dogs as status symbols, depending on what facade their ego is going for.
It could be a Pit Bull, because that makes the narc look ‘tough,’ feeding their notorious image. Or they may go all out with a French Bulldog, because they’re expensive, directly showcasing that the narcissist must be well-off to even own one.
Having a dog is also another one of those life milestone boxes to tick. Many narcissists will get a dog just to acquire the next item, which deems them ‘successful’ in life, much like a house, family, annual vacation and two cars in the driveway.
Narcissists often use pets as status symbols in order to puff up their egos and appear successful in life.
Narcissists Use Pets to Pick Up New Supply
Yep, narcissists will often use pets as a way of finding new supply.
Let’s step into the shoes of the narc for a hot minute. Taking the dog for a walk shows potential dating stock that they’re a responsible and caring adult, tending to their beloved pet’s needs. It also gives the vibe that they’re fit, health conscious and an outdoorsy type.
Think about it, what better way to start up a conversation with a random stranger, who they’ve set their crosshairs on, than by chatting over funny dog antics? Before you know it they’re heading off for a coffee and the love bombing can begin before the sun sets!
Narcissists often use pets as a tool to look caring and responsible. Pets offer a great excuse to start up conversation with potential new supply.
Narcissists Use Animals in Order to Appear Altruistic
It can be common for some narcissists to be ‘animal lovers,’ which may leave you scratching your head as to whether or not this person truly is a narcissist or not.
Altruistic narcissists are in the business of doing good deeds for others with the full expectation that they will get heavy validation in return. They will even get extremely resentful for having to do the good deeds (which they despise), even though they willingly offered. This is particularly the case if they don’t feel as though they’ve received enough validation (supply) for the good deed.
These are the narcissists who will put up social media posts, tooting their own horn with how ‘helpful’ they’ve been. Maybe they volunteer at the local animal shelter or they foster animals. In return, they need all of their minions to tell them how wonderful they are.
“Gosh you’re amazing! I don’t know how you do it all. Where would we be without you?”
The altruistic narcissist animal lover will also use their knowledge and ‘care’ to build a superior status. They’ll think that they are the biggest expert on the topic and that they’re the most special because of all the work they do. They believe that they’re well within their rights to boss other people around and tell them how things should be done in the field and even publicly smear people who question them or go against their agenda.
The whole point for the ‘animal-loving narcissist’ is to appear kind, compassionate and generous, so as to get the narcissistic supply generated from that attention and status.
We well know that narcissists have very little capacity to be genuinely kind or compassionate, nor are they generous without expecting something in return. The whole show is a facade.
Narcissists don’t genuinely care about animals, all they care about is how kind and caring they appear to be. It’s in that appearance of caring that grants them attention and supply from the outside world.
Narcissists Use Pets to Triangulate
Triangulation is where the narcissist uses a third party to devalue you, make you feel insecure, create confusion and keep you in a state of anxiety about your relationship with them.
This ties in with the trauma bonding process where they withhold their affection and time from you to keep you on the hook, hoping for a mere morsel just to feel ‘okay’ again.
It’s all part of a psychological process whereby they get you addicted to them.
You see, when they taketh away from you, you’re left feeling awful and confused, which is totally based on their manipulative behaviour. So, when the narcissist gives something back to you, usually just a breadcrumb of attention or pretending as though nothing ever happened, you feel such relief that it’s akin to feeling high. The narcissist is training your chemical body to actually need them as a way of feeling relief from the very abuse they’re inflicting upon you.
|READ: 7 Stages of a Trauma Bond →
Crazily, narcissists can use pets as the third party for triangulation. It’s not uncommon for the narcissist’s pet to be treated like royalty, while you’re left feeling like the peasant. The dog might get to ride shotgun in the car, while you have to take the back. Maybe the pet gets all of the narcissist’s love and attention while making you feel like the dirt underneath their shoe.
Narcissists can lavishly spend money on the pet, while completely forgetting (i.e. ignoring) your birthdays and anniversaries. Ruining your special days is another abuse tactic they use. I used to think that it was just a coincidence that my narc ex managed to ruin birthday after birthday. However, it was all 100% intentional.
So, why do narcissists triangulate partners with their pets? Because it reiterates to the partner that they are worthless, while the pet exemplifies the type of perfection they need to be in order to be good enough for the narcissist.
“If only I put in a bit more effort, then the narcissist might treat me as good as they treat the dog.”
It’s devaluation at its best, which keeps you in their cycle of abuse as a result of low self-worth and needing the narcissist to be your provider of security, survival, approval and love (ironically).
And if you bring the topic up with them, expect to be gaslit. Plus, they will use your very feelings against you and throw them in your face down the track.
How narcissists gaslight when triangulating with a pet:
- “Oh my God, are you actually jealous of the dog? That’s pathetic.”
- “Are you saying I’m not allowed to care for my pet?”
- “You’re crazy!”
- “I never did that/ said that. You’re making things up.”
Just to rub more salt into the wound, they are also actively working to be the pet’s ‘favourite’ to isolate you from your pet. It’s all completely immature and extremely manipulative behaviour.
|READ: 100+ Gaslighting Examples →
The narcissist likes to demonstrate that you are so worthless, you’re even beneath the pet in the household pecking order. This works to erode your self-worth, so that you don’t think you’re even worthy of anything more, eliminating (in their mind) the chance of you abandoning them.
Narcissists Can Be Extremely Jealous of Pets
Yep, if you greet your pet before you greet the narcissist at the end of a busy day, heaven forbid! If you give your pet attention when the narcissist is demanding you give them attention, be prepared for a narcissistic rage to ensue.
In the narcissist’s world, they are the most special, most important beings. If you are found to be giving more attention to someone or something else, they will behave like a selfish child throwing a tantrum.
Your purpose in the narcissist’s life is to serve them without question. If the narcissist feels like you’re giving more attention to the pets than what they see fit, they’ll somehow find a way to punish you and put you back into place.
Examples of narcissistic punishment around pets:
- They won’t care for the pet properly
- They’ll treat the pet with contempt
- They’ll verbally and physically abuse the pet
- They’ll fly into an unrealistic rage at the pet’s behaviour
- They might ‘accidentally’ let the pet wander off or die
- They might torment the pet to get a reaction out of you
- They’ll encourage the pet to behave badly so as to justify why the pet needs to be discarded
- They’ll invalidate how you care for and treat the pet, making you second-guess yourself
The narcissist believes that they are superior to all others and must be the centre of focus at all times. If the attention shifts to the pet instead of them, they will punish you and even get rid of the pet so that they can once again be centre stage.
Narcissists May Totally Ignore Pets
Some narcissists just outright ignore pets, because they deem animals to be of zero value to them. If they don’t get anything from the pet (in the form of attention and admiration), they will completely ignore its existence.
Everything with a narcissist is purely transactional. There has to be something in it for them or they won’t bother.
You might have a pet that you love dearly and ask the narcissist to feed it for you while you’re away. They will grumble and whinge the whole way along, then need a medal at the end for being such a gracious human being for feeding your pet for you.
It’s like dealing with a toddler who needs constant validation for the growth of their confidence… except with a narcissist there is never any growth.
Some narcissists view animals as completely worthless, therefore they’ll simply ignore their existence.
Narcissists Have Pets to Be in a Position of Power
Narcissists are complete control freaks. Somewhere inside themselves, they know that they need to feed off of others in order to feel good and keep their facade going.
The irony of narcissism is that one of their deepest fears is around abandonment. Yet, they do nothing genuine to actually make people want to stick around. They actively treat people like crap, abuse them and gaslight them to make them feel crazy.
The narcissist is a False Self with nothing authentic to offer. They are nothing without others around them, buying into their false reality and validating their very existence.
That’s why narcissists are so hell-bent on controlling everyone and everything in their lives. It’s the only way they can hold supply in place without people abandoning ship once they see the real person underneath.
Their hunger for control doesn’t just apply to people, it very much applies to their pets as well. In fact, pets are easier to control because they don’t talk back or question the narcissist’s narrative. They just love unconditionally and willingly hand over life force energy.
For the narcissist to feel in control of themselves and not spiral down into their deep inner shame and disgust within themselves, they must control their outer world.
“If I can have this much power over something else, I must be incredibly special and important.”
When narcissists have complete control over their pets, it makes them feel extremely worthy, superior and special.
Narcissists Abuse Pets
The whole structure of a narcissist’s life is based on abuse. Their friendships and relationships are always moving through their abuse cycle, so why would we expect anything different with their pets?
If their pets don’t behave exactly how the narcissist wants them to, they will not hesitate to be verbally and/ or physically abusive towards the animals.
Narcissists use pets to project their anger so that they don’t have to feel their own uncomfortable feelings. It’s a low-ball shot, to say the least.
Here’s an example:
A narcissist is walking along and stubs his toe.
Immediately he feels a shot of pain, which he does not want to feel. A narcissist injury is triggered, where he feels shame and worthlessness for a millisecond.
Immediately his ego flips the script because he is perfect, so it simply cannot be his fault. Therefore he must find something to shift the blame onto.
Right beside him sits his dog Fido, loyal as ever. So, the narcissist boots the dog up the backside while raging, “Get out of the way you stupid mongrel!”
As heartbreaking as it is, this type of treatment of animals by narcissists is all too common.
|READ: Narc Abuse Cycle Explained →
Narcissists actively manipulate and abuse both people and pets to get what they want out of life. They’re a defective person who doesn’t know how to operate in any other way.
Narcissists Use Pets to Hold You in the Relationship
Much like having children, narcissists can use pets as a way of keeping you bound to them. Everything they do is to further serve their agenda, so if they feel that there’s still plenty of supply left in you for the taking, they will want to keep you around for that.
If they get any indication of you leaving them (aka abandoning them), they will threaten you with losing your pet and never seeing it again. They will try anything to emotionally blackmail you into staying with them – cycling through threats, love bombing, invalidating, blaming and raging.
If you do leave them and take the pet with you, get ready for heavy guilt-tripping from the narcissist about how sad and lonely they are without the pet. The narcissist doesn’t actually give two hoots about the pet, it’s just a prop for them to use to get what they want.
Why does the narcissist use the pet to hold you or pull you back in?
- They use the pet as an excuse to get back into your world, which is called hoovering. They are using guilt to play on your compassion and empathy.
- They cannot handle being rejected (if you left them), therefore they need to get you back to save face publicly, and then they will punish you for daring to leave them.
- They see the pet as an item in which they are entitled to getting in the split, not you. This is all about them coming out on top and winning.
- They’ll use the pet to make you feel too afraid to leave them, therefore you stay and keep being abused by the narcissist.
- They’ll take the pet and flash it around as a ‘trophy’ if they get guardianship. Posting happy pics of them, the pet and their new supply on social media is common to trigger you even further.
- They’ll smear you and make out that you’re a neglectful and careless pet owner.
|READ: Stages of Leaving a Narcissist →
Narcissists see pets as bargaining tools to control you and extract life force energy from you.
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