My love for animals is both a burden and a strength.

Pauline Le Pichon
4 min readSep 1, 2023

A few weeks ago, one of my cats fell seriously ill. He had to have an emergency operation. Fortunately, he seems to be feeling better now (fingers crossed). But it really worried me and made me cry, because my animals mean the world to me. I can’t imagine living without them.
I wish they were immortal. So when something happens to them, I’m devastated.

I’ve always loved and cared about animals. I think I have a special bond with them. I’m not even ashamed to say that I often prefer animals to human beings. Animals don’t pretend to be what they’re not, and they can give you so much love. Plus, their mere presence can make you feel good. For example, I love it when one of my cats comes to sleep next to me in the morning. It’s so nice to know that she’s here, with me.

I don’t really remember when it all started, but I remember the first pet I had and how I felt when she died. When I was very young, we had a cat called Filou, but I don’t remember him very well.
A few years later, at the age of 5 to be precise, we got a dog named Isis. She was the sweetest, calmest dog. But 7 years later, she escaped from our house and my parents found her dead the next morning. I wasn’t there to say goodbye to her. I was 12, but I remember that day as if it were yesterday. I came home, said hello to my family, started looking for my dog… and my mom began to cry and told me what had happened. Losing my pet and not being able to say goodbye to her... it was one of the worst moments I’ve ever experienced. It truly made me sick for days. As I’m writing these words, tears are running down my face. The pain has never really gone away.

Since then, loving animals has always been both a burden and a strength. Sometimes I hate myself for loving animals so much. When they get sick, when they die, it feels like I’m losing a part of myself. They’re my best friends and pages I don’t want to turn. It’s like being given a gift and then having it taken away for no reason.
I also end up being a wreck when it comes to animals I don’t physically know or am not even close to, because I can’t stand the idea of animals being mistreated. I mean, I cried when the orca Tilikum died.
In 2018, a cat came to my house. She was pregnant and as she didn’t get on with my cat, I couldn’t keep her. So I called an association, which took her in to have her aborted and neutered, and then make her available for adoption. But the cat died after the operation. You can’t imagine how guilty I felt. I immediately convinced myself that she had died because of me, even though many people were saying that I had done more than anyone else.

It’s hard to describe how I feel when animals die. It’s that moment when you come home and know that your pet is no longer there to greet you. At that moment, your heart shatters into a million pieces. And nothing can fix that. I sometimes envy those who are indifferent to what happens to animals.

Yet, it shouldn’t only be a weakness (some people consider that having difficulty coping with the death of a pet is a weakness), but also a strength. Loving animals makes me want to fight for them. Six years ago, I became more involved in animal protection. I demonstrated peacefully against circuses that use animals. I then have adopted a vegetarian diet. I also cook and eat vegan meals from time to time. I don’t use things made from animals, and I opt for cruelty-free and vegan beauty products. I also donate money every month to two animal protection organizations. Yet, I know I’m not the most perfect animal defender and that what I do is certainly not enough, but I do my best to help and protect animals. I started doing all these things because loving them wasn’t great but it wasn’t enough, I wanted to use everything I had in my heart to do things that would make sense and that would protect them. Animals are innocent creatures that need us.
I’m a very sensitive person, and even more so when it comes to animals.
I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. It’s not a flaw.

I now have 3 cats. I’d like them to live forever, but I know that’s impossible.
I don’t want to imagine how I’ll feel when they’re gone.
So I do my best to enjoy every moment spent with them. And that’s what every animal lover should do.

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Pauline Le Pichon

I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, instructor and writer.