Semantics re. the term 'pet owners'

Recently ‘The Supervet’, Prof. Noel Fitzpatrick, from the TV series has been advocating the use of the terms ‘family members’, ‘mums and dads’, etc. to describe our relationships with our companion animals rather than using the term ‘pet owners’, Login • Instagram. It’s something that resonates with me as I have had problems with the term ‘owners’ for many years. I lived with cats for over 20 years and now do cat sitting. I know we don’t ‘own’ cats - they are their own free spirits, and I’m sure it’s the same with dogs, albeit in a different way. On THS, I think the terms ‘house owners’ and ‘house sitters’ are the accurate ones. Thoughts?


Hi. I avoid the term ‘owner’, for similar reasons. I would not be comfortable with mum and dad, but that’s just my preference. However, I certainly understand people feeling that the pets are part of their family.

The term ‘house’ doesn’t truly represent the variety of homes we sit. Apart from what might be seen as traditional houses of various shapes and sizes, there are many sits done in apartments and condominiums. Aside from those, I have seen sitters mention yachts, houseboats, and so much more. I realize it’s difficult to come up with all-encompassing terms or words. As to ‘house owner’ - what about the homes where the occupant is a renter? They are not the owners at all. The plot thickens … :thinking: :roll_eyes: :slight_smile:

For a parallel post about word choice, you might want to look at Housesitters or Petsitters?


Actually I don’t care what I am called as long as my cats, which are our family members, are cared for. More important is the understanding that they are very important to us no matter if we own them or they decide for themselves to share the house with us.
And to me the word Sitter is enough and it covers everything from pets to houseboats. :wink:


I avoid the words house owner or home owner as it puts the emphasis on the property and not the far more important pets. I had never thought of the word owner to be derogatory but now you have pointed out I agree. We don’t own these animals.
I do see where you are coming from but think mum and dad are a step too far. Friend?, maybe a little too loose. Animal lover? Can describe many different types of people. I like the phrase pet companion. It shows that the animal is domesticated (pet) and the relationship is a mutual one where both parties are gaining something from it.
After a hour musing, I have decided host is a good word and I will be using it henceforth. Thank you for pointing this detail out. It is a very good point.


In the case of cats, I think you’ll find the word is “staff” :rofl:


@ElsieDownie , I love your thinking! Even in my profile self-description I use the term animal companions, but saying mum and dad is a bit over the top, even for me, lol!I agree that the terms ‘house owners’ and ‘house sitters’ are accurate. Cheers to our free-spirited friends living domestically.


Exactly @Myhnabird :rofl:
Thats my Forum name: Düse=Jet (because I am a flight attendant), Zofe=maid, service woman…I have two cats :rofl:


Ain’t that the truth!!!

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I love this so much more than HO!
I think it’s so much more personable.

:joy::joy:love it>

Yes, ‘owner’ is wrong but they aren’t equal family members either. Being a parent (or foster parent) is not the same as cohabiting with an animal.
For cats ‘servant’ would be a better term and for dogs ‘pack leader’ (if you are lucky).
Though anything is better than ‘fur babies’. That makes me cringe and puts me off applying for sits.


Thanks @EdGallagher , I am glad that I am not alone in disliking the term 'fur babies. We may be upsetting some people but I would not apply for a sitting that mentions that description !

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We’ve moved this from “All about Pets” to “Sitter Owner Exchange” as it would be interesting to get owner member views on this topic …


Back when I had live-in animal companions at my home I never liked to think of myself as their owner.
Maybe I can ask the folks at the dog park when I take the guys over tomorrow?

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Yes, CatStaff is my user name!


Personally, the names don’t bother me. We do own the pets in that we likely paid money for them and received a receipt of purchase or adoption but that doesn’t mean they are ours to treat any way we want and it doesn’t have anything to do with our spiritual connections to them. A lot of responsibility comes with our selections.

I like “staff” for cats and “pack leader” for dogs as those are the roles we generally play in their lives. Growing up, we always had cats. As an adult, I’ve mainly had dogs. One of the things I love about being a petsitter through TH is getting to spend time with feline friends as well as dogs.


We call ourselves ‘house sitters’, the hosts ‘home hosts’ - and the pets by their name if singular or ‘pets’ as plural - I also really dislike ‘fur babies’ and prefer ‘four-legged family members’ as a term of endearment


No I can’t stand ‘fur babies’ and I can’t stand it when pets have died and their owners say they’ve gone over the rainbow bridge


I’m with you on both of those. Cringe!


Hi @Smiley @Lindsay I volunteer with a Pet Bereavement Helpline as trained support.

For many who are grieving, Rainbow Bridge brings comfort and is a coping mechanism for helping manage their grief.

As many of us know only too well, grieving for a pet, unlike human loss, can be a very lonely place the grief can last a very long time, I know some who are still struggling after having said their final goodbyes years earlier and if Rainbow Bridge helps then that can only be a good thing.