Using other animals as companions seems to be very benign. However, when we look a little closer, we find that, yet again, using others has disadvantages for them.
Companion animals have been domesticated by us. This is a form of domination that exemplifies human supremacy and is instigated by human desires rather than concern for the other.
Many companion animals are selectively bred to have traits that are appealing to humans such as unusual physical appearance or traits such as docility. Selective breeding has serious consequences for their health and is often responsible for unnecessary suffering and premature death.
Regardless of how well we care for and love companion animals, they are the result of a process of domination and ownership that deprives them of their wild nature and their liberty. We control what and how they eat; if and when they exercise; and how they live almost every aspect of their lives.
Many companion animals endure unnecessary mutilation. Although there are understandable arguments for neutering to prevent more unwanted lives, the act of neutering is an invasive, painful procedure that carries some risk, and it is not a procedure that they consent to. (Please do not take this philosophical position as justification for not neutering companion animals as the consequences of respecting their right to procreate may cause more problems than it solves).
There are few aspects of their lives that are not controlled by us. Many companion animals are kept in environments that they would not choose to live in such as urban environments where they have little or no access to an outdoor life.
While many people take good care of companion animals, others neglect or even harm them physically, sexually and psychologically. Every year countless young, vulnerable, and often sick animals are abandoned when humans tire of them. Countless numbers are euthanized for no other reason than the fact that no one wants them.
If you would like a companion animal, please rescue someone who needs a home. Please never pay someone to breed companion animals. However, it is important that we consider how we can best meet our own desires for companionship and interaction with others in ways that do not involve any use of other animals at all.