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Why The Hogwarts Pet Rule Never Made Sense In Harry Potter

There you are: it's your eleventh birthday, and a filthy bird has just dropped a beak-dampened envelope into your outstretched hands. Cracking open the letter's wax seal, you are delighted to learn that you have been cordially invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, cementing your place as a powerful sorcerer and, more importantly, pretty much guaranteeing that you're as good at math now as you're ever going to get.

There's a lot to look forward to in the days to come. Soon, you'll hop onto that most magical of transportation methods, an Amtrak train, and be offered jelly beans that taste like actual trash. A sentient hat will be placed on top of your head, and there's a 25% chance that it will decide that you're a bad person forever. You'll play a full-contact sport a hundred feet above the ground where your fellow children will try to knock you out of the sky with weighted balls. An old man will sell you a stick capable of killing everyone around you if you accidentally say the wrong phrase in pig latin. It's a lot to take in, but hey, you're eleven. Gotta grow up some time.

Luckily, you won't be alone! The letter that an owl had in its mouth — the same mouth that it uses to tear the intestines out of voles, by the way — notes that each student is allowed to bring "an owl OR a cat OR a toad." Despite everything mentioned above, and even though a pet can generally brighten any living situation, it turns out that this detail might just be the most horrifying aspect of the Hogwarts experience.

The Harry Potter universe is owl wrong

First thing's first. It's not just about the poop, although the potential stank of hundreds of cats living together in a single dormitory is a haunting prospect. As was widely reported at the time, J.K. Rowling has already addressed the wizarding community's approach to feculence. No, the problem here isn't so much nature's call as it is what Steve Irwin referred to as "nature's way."

As most people are aware, cats are what's referred to as "obligate carnivores." They gotta eat meat or they'll die. The same goes for toads of all stripes — they're carnivorous, and not particularly picky about which creatures they consume. Owls, meanwhile, just go ham on any animal smaller than an owl, swallowing their still-twitching carcasses whole and then puking up the bones later. The Hogwarts pet policy has the potential to turn any given common room into a zoological Hunger Games. Ever been in a public space where someone's emotional support pit bull caught a glimpse of somebody else's therapeutic cockatoo? Imagine that, and add dozens of panicked children with magic powers trying to save their pets. It's a nightmare, and that's before you factor in the way that some of the teachers just turn into animals sometimes. How many points does Gryffindor lose if your bird tries to eat McGonagall? 

Then there's the public health issue. Hagrid mentions in the first Harry Potter book that cats make him sneeze. Translation: Allergies are still very much a factor in the Wizarding World. The school grounds are a perfect storm for youth anaphylaxis, and given the fact that the infirmary looks just advanced enough that it could be used as a quiet place for injured World War I soldiers to slip into death, the chances of a magical Epi-Pen being available seem razor thin. Say what you want about Voldemort, at least his snake was hypoallergenic.

Chalk up one more reason that it would suck to live in the Harry Potter universe: The best school in England is a Thunderdome pet shop full of wheezing children.