The emotional connection we share with our furry friends is powerful. But we often find ourselves wondering what exactly is going on in their heads.
Cats and dogs may speak a language of their own, but researchers have identified some key behaviors that give us valuable clues about our pets’ state of mind. Here are six of the most common ways that our dogs and cats show us they love us as much as we love them.
Good news! You can take your dog’s happy dance when you walk through the door at face value – they are genuinely glad to see you.
While cats aren’t known for being as overt in their affection as dogs, many kitties will also greet their favorite people. For cats who typically hide when strangers come into their space, this is a way of demonstrating trust and acceptance.
There’s a reason why “puppy eyes” are so irresistible. As pets and humans have adapted to rely on each other, we’ve also learned to bond through eye contact. Modern dogs have even evolved eye muscles that allow them to give us the deeply expressive looks that flood our brains with the feel-good chemical oxytocin.
Cats have their own version of a meaningful glance. Take note when your kitty gives you a “slow blink” by making eye contact with you before closing their eyes for a few moments. This willingness to make themselves vulnerable is a way of showing that they feel at ease with you.
Best of all – humans can reciprocate by locking eyes with their kitty and returning the slow blink.
The pack that stays together sleeps together. For our pets’ wild ancestors, sleep was an extremely vulnerable time. It makes perfect sense that our dogs and cats have evolved to be very selective about where they choose to nap.
For modern pups and kitties, co-sleeping is a sure sign that they consider you to be a trusted member of the family.
Our pets may not have to worry about predators anymore, but they are still well aware that their bellies are a vulnerable area that would need protection if they were attacked.
When cats and dogs voluntarily expose their tummies, they are showing you just how safe and comfortable you make them feel.
If you feel special when your pup drops their favorite toy at your feet, you aren’t alone. Resource-sharing is a common behavior in dogs who want to acknowledge their favorite humans as leaders. It can also be a demonstration of trust and an invitation to play.
While cats are known for being more independent, they have also been known to show affection through sharing. Kitties who have successfully “hunted” a toy will often proudly present it to their favorite people as a way of showing their love.
When our pets were small and reliant on their mothers, grooming was an important part of family bonding. We may not always appreciate their insistent licks, but for dogs and cats, keeping loved-ones clean is a way of expressing affection.
Just like we want to keep our pets happy and healthy with regular trips to the groomer and wellness checks at the vet, they also have instincts to take care of us. Pet parents can enjoy every sloppy kiss, purr, and wag knowing that the feeling is mutual.