I decided to go straight to the source – The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.
“Idolatry” may be a strong word, and perhaps an incorrect one in this context.
I do think, however, that some people do spend money on animals that should rather go to other places.
I had a friend who went into debt and spent a couple thousand dollars over the course of a month or two on an ill pet.
I’ve had several friends who spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars every month because their pet had diabetes and needed insulin daily for the rest of the pets’ lives.
I’ve known many, many people who spend more money than I can imagine kenneling their pets while they go out of town for the holidays, etc.
The standards pet owners are expected to live up to these days in ridiculous. Vet bills are outrageous even for basic care. And some people think I’m heartless and unethical because if one of my pets develops cancer or diabetes, I’ll have them put down. And no, I won’t be spending $75 a month for pet insurance for our three pets, thanks.
The pet insurance company sent me an email story about a dog who had fought cancer and won – and that their insurance covered over $40,000 in vet bills.
This is getting to be the expectation for pet owners these days.
When we adopted each animal from the shelter or rescue group, we knew we were taking on certain responsibilities to feed and shelter them, and to care for basic health needs. But these are pets, not people.
And there are absolutely people who can’t give money to their parish or Catholic Charities, or a homeless shelter, or an oversees mission group because they “have” to pay for pet insurance, or vet bills, or grooming, or kenneling, and so on.