Here's Charles Dickens* in defense of the household pet and its proof of the householder's moral superority. Granted, he's being slightly facetious in the interests of entertainment, but why not enjoy a minute of self-congratulation?
**Curator's note: Dickens was also the editor of Household Words, so it is entirely possible this excerpt was written by someone else. I've been looking the volume over backwards and forwards for the correct author - if you happen to know it's not Dickens, please let me know so I can give credit where due.
Everyone feels the difference in the moral atmosphere when a house is devoid of pets. Its inhabitants lack an intangible something which one becomes aware of at the first acquaintance. They cannot have quite such loving natures as those who, while spending the bread of their hearts on their human kind, think also of the crumbs for their cousins the animals. . .
. . .There are few people, however long behind them they may have left their youth, who, during a seaside outing, do not still secretly delight in sand-castle-building the while they excuse such frivolity to themselves and the public by pretending it is all kindness on their part to amuse the children. And in our homes the pet animals have very much the same mission as the holiday children in giving us opportunities of indulging that spirit of eternal childhood which every unspoilt nature possesses.
It is charming to see a great rough man, full of his business and the commonplaces of life, having a game on the sly with a kitten, and touching it as tenderly and with as much care as a little girl does her best doll. . .
. . .When you hear a person say, "Oh no, we keep no pets; they spoil the furniture," you immediately feel a just antipathy to that dreadfully fussy person, and hope that, in right retribution, something much worse than the little soft paws may spoil the furniture—moths and rust, or a local earthquake.
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Gracious. I can't say I've ever wished an earthquake on anyone, but I guess Dickens has beat us all to it. (Tongue in cheek, of course.) From Household Words: A Weekly Journal, vol. I (Bradbury & Evans, 1881), "Home Pets," p. 437.