The purpose of the current research was to explore changes in Indian attitudes and practices with pet dogs and cats and compare them with responses from the United States. Pet parenting, defined as the investment of money, emotion, and time in companion animals, is a form of alloparental care (care given by someone other than the offspring’s biological parents). Pet parenting appears to emerge in cultures that (1) demonstrate high rates of urbanization, (2) have declining total fertility rates (average births per woman), and (3) support life orientations beyond reproduction (collectively called the second demographic transition). A total of 1,417 respondents (US, n = 991; India, n = 426) completed online surveys (one in each country) to compare demographic profiles, attachment (as measured by the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale [LAPS]), and companion animal caretaking behaviors in each culture. Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare Indian and United States populations on the LAPS and caretaking behaviors (titled CARES in our study). Our findings document the emergence of pet parenting in India with many similarities to the United States. However, cultural variations in how these societies engage with nonhuman animals result in nuanced differences. For example, when reporting terms used to refer to themselves (e.g., Mom/Dad, friend, owner) and their companion animals (e.g., kids, pet, animal), United States respondents were more likely to code switch to less familial terms when speaking to coworkers and strangers. Additionally, Indian respondents reported higher agreement with all three LAPS scales, and they also reported higher frequency of behaviors related to Affective Responsiveness and General Care. Both cultures reported a moderately high frequency of Training and Play, with the United States respondents reporting slightly more training than Indians. These differences suggest that philosophical disparities exist between the United States and India, shaping the practice of pet parenting. We suggest continued, cross-cultural investigation of changing norms surrounding companion animals and the emergence of pet parenting.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, in Anthrozoös on 2022, available online at https://doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2021.1996026
Volsche, Shelly; Mukherjee, Rijita; and Rangaswamy, Madhavi. (2022). "The Difference is in the Details: Attachment and Cross-Species Parenting in the United States and India". Anthrozoös, 35(3), 393-408. https://doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2021.1996026